Since our arrival in the Netherlands, I've not seen chard for sale- either at the local stores or the outdoor markets. In fact, when I've asked for it people often think I mean rhubarb. Chard is much smaller than rhubarb, which is a lovely veggie in its own right, but rhubarb has poisonous leaves. Don't confuse these two! Chard has green stems, red stems, or even yellow-white stems. The leaves are green and if you click on this link to the wikipedia chard entry you'll discover it is one of the healthiest veggies.
On Sunday, on a bike ride home from Eindhoven everything changed: the Genneper Park farm shop had chard, nestled among the carrots and other leafy greens. I do not even know what I paid for it, I was so rushed to grab it by the handful.
I've tried to explain chard to my Dutch friends, even pointing it out in our community gardens a couple of times (and resisting the urge to hop the fence and swipe some) verifying that indeed it does grow here. The Dutch name doesn't help much: snijbiet (snij = cutting and biet = beet). Nope, unless you've tasted it, it doesn't seem to matter much (like acorn squash- which I also miss!)
On Sunday, we had chard for dinner, and here is how I made it with thanks to Todd and Melissa for showing me how many years ago:
Prepare a bunch of chard by rinsing thoroughly. Trim any brown bits off leaves or stems. Carefully cut away the leaves, and chop roughly. Don't try to dry the leaves, they should be damp when you cook them, the water adds steam to the cooking.
We ate this for dinner, no sides (we'd had a big lunch) and savored every bite. Normally I would serve this as a side dish but since it has been over three years since we'd had it, we had to elevate it to the main event on Sunday. I cooked it the day I bought it, but if you must keep it for a day or two, it can be stored like leafy greens: slightly dampen a paper towel, wrap the chard loosely, and then put in a plastic bag in your veggie drawer of the fridge.
Dutch friends, please, try chard and discover its complex love affair. Demand your local AH carry it, so all of us can enjoy this fabulous healthy vegetable.