Rainbow Chard on Toast, Two Ways


I often shop with my eyes rather than my head when it comes to local food at the Greenmarket. This leads to a fun culinary game later of what to do with strawberries, fiddleheads, and a rainbow trout, for instance. Not the most practical method, I’ll admit, but I’ll stand by it just for the unexpected little solutions to those puzzles like this. Plowing through a bustling Saturday market at Grand Army Plaza, my eyes settled on some of the flashiest gems, and I left with — and not knowing what to do with — a bunch of rainbow-stemmed Swiss chard, and some multigrain bread.

Here are two simple ways these can be enjoyed together. Rather than make a big, bready sandwich, open-faced, piled-high toasts is a lighter, more summery switch and you don’t have to bore yourself with just one filling.

multi-colored (“rainbow”) Swiss chard

broken down to leaves for sauteeing and crisp stem bits

My first application was not unfamiliar to many snacks and breakfasts made many times before: I sauteed the leafy chard greens to serve on some toast and topped it all off with a soft-boiled egg. Chard is so silky and delicate once sauteed. The second version came about by happenstance; while chopping off the stalks, I decided they’d be perfect for eating just fresh. Crisp, watery and neutral-tasting, they could add some texture to a salad. Or, to just the leftover avocado half in the fridge (from another impulse food-buying incident).

chard stalks tossed with avocado, lemon and parsley

So instead of going into the sautee, the stems were finely chopped and tossed with some cubes of avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley. It was better than just avocado served like this, in my opinion, and a good move if you’re trying to skimp on portions of that beloved, but fatty fruit. Have a fresh tomato instead? Try mixing chopped pieces of that in instead. Red onions, definitely. They’re never local to where I live, but I just can’t resist an avocado now and then. As for the first toast, with an egg, it’s a good vice to always keep ‘em on hand. They cook quickly, provide richness and a “sauce” when served runny, and they’re a solid boost of protein for a single meal. And if you’re really hardcore about always having good, fresh eggs, maybe look into raising some hens, even in the city.

first take: sauteed with a soft-boiled egg

second take, stems only with avocado

Here’s a toast to doing up the humble toast in more ways than one.

Avocado & Swiss Chard Stem Salad on Toast
(makes 1 large half-sandwich)

1 slice toast
about 1/2 ripe avocado, finely chopped
3-4 rainbow chard stalks, finely chopped
about 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
about 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
about 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients except for the toast. Can be covered and chilled up to an hour or two before serving, piled on the toast.

Swiss Chard & Soft-Boiled Egg on Toast
(makes 1 large half-sandwich)

1 slice toast
3-4 rainbow chard, leaves only, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg

Soft-boil the egg until white is fully cooked and yolk is fairly runny, or cook to desired doneness. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the chard, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the toast. Top with the sliced soft-boiled egg.

Cost Calculator
(for both half-sandwiches)

about 1/3 bunch rainbow chard (at $3/bunch at Evolutionary Organics stand at the Greenmarket): $1.00
2 slices multigrain bread (at $5/loaf from Bread Alone bakery at the Greenmarket): $0.35
1 egg (from own rooftop-raised chickens): $0.10?
1/2 avocado (on sale at Key Food for $1.50!): $0.75
1 tablespoon parsley (from windowsill plant): $0.10
olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper: $0.25

Total: $2.55

Health Factor

Five brownie points: I’d consider these well-balanced, though not ultra-healthy, miniature meals. Swiss chard is an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, and there’s even more beta-carotene with all those different colors in the mix. A half-avocado, while rich in saturated fats, provide the fat to help those nutrients absorb in you even better, as does the olive oil, another heart-healthy plant-based fat. An egg a day won’t hurt you, either — especially when its deep orange hue is telling of its richness in vitamins, too. And with bread, any time you can sneak in a whole grain version rather than just white is a very easy and rewarding point you can give yourself, too.

Green Factor

Six maple leaves: It gets easier and easier eating green as the summer goes on. It’s only just begun, and there’s already a great variety of produce available locally at the Greenmarket, so let’s enjoy it. Aside from the Swiss chard (maybe the most stunning bunch I’ve seen, from Evolutionary Organics farm), bread, and homegrown egg and parsley, the avocado stands main culprit to making this a non-strictly local meal. (And it was enjoyed thoroughly.)

13 Responses

  1. Karol
    |

    love it!

  2. Eating the Scenery
    |

    Yes. Don’t they have sort of local, organic, really fresh eggs at the Greenmarket?

  3. […] Not Eating Out in New York » Rainbow Chard on Toast, Two Ways […]

  4. Gabi
    |

    I keep seeing Rainbow chard at whole foods and the farmers market, but I just wasn’t sure what to do with it. One can really only tolerate have sauteed greens for so many meals in a row in the spring. I am excited to try out your rainbow stalk salsa though! And for some reason I only think of spinach as pairing with egg, but this seems like a nice twist on Florentine eggs Benedict.

    Thanks!

  5. Jessica
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    I love this picture and your idea. Rainbow chard is so beautiful and I love anything with egg and toast involved.

  6. cathy x.
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    chard makes an awesome gratin! i think i remember seeing a nice recipe floating around on the net from stephanie alexander. basically you just blanch the stalks for about 10 minutes, drain and dry them, chuck them in a dish and cover with a mixture of 1 part grated cheese (by weight), 2 parts breadcrumbs (fresh is best!), a knob of butter, fresh herbs (i like thyme), lemon zest if like, a sprinkle of salt and whatever spices you prefer (my favourite is cumin and nutmeg). then you just bake it uncovered at 180ºC for about half an hour and voila! it works with pumpkin too and is absolutely gorgeous with a dollop of sheep’s milk yoghurt! :P*

  7. Giff
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    I think chard is an under-appreciated vegetable. This sounds really interesting and healthy!

  8. Connie
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    Hi. I just read your “About Me” page but since it doesn’t have a comment box, I’ll post my comment here. I know it’s out of topic but I’d like to say congratulations on your philosophy. Cooking and eating in seems to be a dying art and lifestyle with today’s very commercialized life. Good to know there are still people who like to promote a lifestyle that is wiser and healthier. Not to mention less expensive. :)

  9. The Little Foodie
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    I just barely cooked chard for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I couldn’t believe how much I LOVED it. I want to eat it with eggs. That sounds so good.

  10. joyce
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    Those eggs look good, mmmmmmm

  11. Krista (kristastes)
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    Wow those look delicious! I love rainbow chard – so pretty! Last time I had it from my CSA share, I made quiche and it turned out wonderfully! Recipe at the bottom of this post!

    http://kristastes.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/the-cafe-is-open-for-biznass/

  12. Trail Shoes
    |

    Chard is awesome! This was such a refreshing dish. Got some rainbow chard growing in the garden now- can’t wait to try this with my own chard!

  13. Yo Calle Jo
    |

    I made the modified the avocado recipe above and am in love!

    Minced the chard stalks with a shallot, added to some mashed avocado, half an heirloom tomato, a little salt and fresh lime juice…and spread on some crispbread, adding a few parsley leaves.

    It’s especially nice because the stalks have a texture similar to onions and since I minced the same size as the shallot I got the crunch without being overwhelmed by an onion-y flavor.

    My, oh my, this going to become my new party dip. Thank you!! :)

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