Crave-worthy greens within reach thanks to a unique method of preparation that delivers crispy edges and golden brown bits of feta, all while adding a few other colorful veggies to the mix!
Since much of the work I do for The Fountain Avenue Kitchen takes place in the quiet of my kitchen or in front of the computer, I derive a certain joy from the comments some readers share after they’ve cooked a recipe.
Mary Lou from Kentucky found my blog in 2012, and over the years, she has graciously commented on every recipe she has tried. Sometimes, she has provided a brief backstory or asked a quick question.
On occasion, Mary Lou has even shared a treasured recipe from her collection.
When I first read the following recipe, I was intrigued that Mary Lou baked Swiss chard. Until then, I had always sautéed chard or added it to soup.
However, the first time I prepared this recipe for my family, I knew it would become a regular on our dinner plates. The dish is unexpectedly delicious and, for those who tend to overlook this leafy green, it’s good reason to try.
What does Swiss chard taste like?
Swiss chard is considered a bitter green, although I consider it one of the more mild in this category. When cooked, any bitterness noticeable when raw dissipates and the flavor sweetens. Chard is similar to spinach yet with a little something extra.
Those who find kale to be too fibrous may find the more tender leaves of Swiss chard to be quite enjoyable.
Can I eat the stems?
Yes! Texture-wise, the stems are similar to celery and benefit from a few minutes of cooking before the more tender leaves are added. The flavor of the stems is much like the leaves.
When possible, I like to buy a variety called rainbow chard, simply because the stems are a mixture of vibrant colors. Regular Swiss chard, however, with white stems tastes just as good.
As mentioned, baking nutrient-rich Swiss chard mellows its flavor. The addition of onion, which also sweetens when baked, enhances the flavor, while the bell pepper adds crispness and color.
The lightly browned feta topping is the crowning glory. For added crunch and nutrients, Mary Lou always sprinkled the finished dish with toasted walnuts. As much as I enjoy nuts, I often skip this step.
The baked chard pairs beautifully with chicken, steak, or seafood. With its array of veggies, cheese, and optional nuts, this dish is also satisfying enough to stand as a light vegetarian meal.
I prefer to use a block of feta as opposed to the pre-crumbled variety in this recipe. Crumbling the feta yourself, directly over the greens, allows you to control the size of the pieces (sometimes the crumbles have a lot of small, powdery pieces), and the flavor is typically better. For those living near Lancaster’s Central Market, Linden Dale Farms offers a goat’s milk feta that is outstanding.
Added note: The last time I made this recipe, I had one candy cane (Chioggia) beet on hand, so I very thinly sliced it with a mandolin and added it with the greens. It tasted great and looked beautiful, and I would not hesitate to do this again. I think golden beets would also be lovely. The key is to thinly slice the beet so it cooks quickly and the edges have a chance to lightly brown.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 bunch rainbow or regular chard (about 10 ounces), rinsed, well drained, and patted dry
- 1 medium onion, chopped or sliced (separate the pieces)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use (plus a little extra for greasing the pan)
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced or chopped
- 1 slightly rounded ½ cup (about 2½ ounces) feta cheese, crumbled
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Optional topping: ¼ – ⅓ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350℉. Grease or spray a rimmed baking sheet.
Separate the stems from the leaves of the Swiss chard and chop both, keeping the piles separate. I chop the stems into bite-size pieces and slice the leaves down the center, lengthwise, and then into 2 to 3-inch strips.
In a large bowl, toss the chard stems and sliced onion with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with pepper to taste, and spread evenly over the prepared baking sheet. (I omit salt in this recipe as the feta offers sufficient saltiness; if you prefer more, you may always salt at the end.)
Bake in the preheated oven until the chard stems have softened and the onion is starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir.
In the bowl you used to toss the stems and onions, toss the chard leaves and the sliced pepper with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a few more grinds of the pepper mill. (I find this easiest to do with my clean hands.) Sprinkle the leaves and peppers over the stem mixture, and then scatter the feta cheese over top.
Return to the oven, and bake until the leaves are beginning to crisp and the feta is starting to turn golden, about 20 minutes. You may broil for a minute or so at the end to add an extra hint of crispiness to the leaves and golden brown color to the feta. Just watch very closely so as not to burn.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the optional walnuts, and enjoy. Any leftovers will lose their crisp edges but are still delicious.
Adding the bell pepper in the second stage of baking keeps it slightly crisp. If you’d prefer the pepper to be softer, you may add it with the onions and chard stems.
Original recipe posted 9-17-14. Always fun to keep one of the old photos!
Made this last night as written, minus the walnuts. First time having chard so I was apprehensive. Really tasty. Really easy. Win win.
Love that you took the risk and it paid off, Colleen. Thanks so much for letting me know!
Any suggestions for a Feta substitute?
Hi Colleen, I’ve used blue cheese and I think shredded Asiago or Manchego would be wonderful. A softer cheese like fontina would likely be nice too.
Hi Ann, this recipe flew under my radar – I think I was on a vacation it came out, but I’m definitely going to try it – sounds delicious. New Year resolution: grow Swiss chard in my back yard again (it’s very easy to grow anyway; leave the center intact for continuous harvesting) and make Swiss chard and carrot tarte, a recipe of my own that I haven’t made for quite a while. Swiss chard is underrated. To me, the stems have an almost asparagus-like quality, and little bit of Swiss chard will doll up any ordinary vegetable soup. An early Happy New Year from Austria, Europe – Nadja
Hi Nadja, Better late than never! I’m glad you stumbled upon this now and love that you plan to grow Swiss chard. We grow it, and it’s very easy as you say. Thank you for your comment and Happy New Year to you too!
I used extra mini bell peppers I had on hand and it was a totally usable substitute. A delicious and easy side to make!
Hi Janelle, Love the mini peppers! Thank you for your comment and so happy you enjoyed.
We love this recipe!
Thanks for letting me know!
So glad it’s a keeper, Bess!
This is excellent. I never would have thought to prepare Swiss chard this way. I will make this often. Such a hit!
I love your site, the recipes, and the reason for the name of your site. The longer I live, the more I realize the important contribution my mother and grandmothers made to my life. And it often involved food, and other creative endeavors. There is no substitute for wholesome, life-giving food shared with a happy heart. Thanks for creating such a great blog. And now I won’t miss a recipe since I signed up for email!
Your thoughtful message made my day, Jeanne. Thank you! I am so glad you found my site and share the wonderful connection to food and family!
Thanks Ann! I am looking forward to getting my Swiss chard on Friday and I will be making this dish over the weekend. I have some mini sweet peppers to use with it and also have goat cheese that I think I will use instead of feta. When I made this the first time a couple of years ago, it was the first time i had ever fixed Swiss chard.
It has become our favorite way to eat Swiss chard, Mary Lou. So glad you passed along your great find!
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Good stuff! Pleased to use all leaves and stems. Delicious. Like crispness of Chard and saltiness of feta.
So glad you enjoyed what has become a regular on the menu here!
Made this tonight with beet greens/stems. Very tasty! Will definitely make it again, trying other greens too!
I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Jill. I, too, have been having fun experimenting with different combinations of greens. So far, I like them all!
We just tried this wonderful recipe tonight. Didn’t have feta, so I substituted goat cheese. Everyone enjoyed it, with my husband saying that it is his favorite version of chard. I can’t wait for my garden chard to come in. Also, I tried Ann’s suggestion of pre-baking some yellow pepper and adding some in with the chard. Enjoyed both versions. Thanks!
I am so glad you enjoyed this, Kate. Thanks so much for letting me–and Mary Lou–know!
Ann I am so happy you liked this recipe! I think last time I made it I had cut my leaf pieces too small. It really does shrink up after baking! I am also going to add red peppers next time, that would make a perfect addition.
I need to get some chard to plant on my deck I some big pots again this year..
We really do love this recipe, Mary Lou! Thank you again for sharing it. You are right, the leaves do shrink a bit so erring on the side of bigger pieces is helpful. Chard and kale are two plants that always seem to do well in our garden…and we love eating them!