Baking is a fun hobby for me. These days, as a busy mom, it doesn’t happen as often as I would like. I recently had the pleasure of making a homemade dutch apple pie after our annual apple picking trip. The pie turned out delicious, but it also reminded me of a time when I made a pie that tasted horrible – swiss chard pie.
As a disclaimer, swiss chard pie can be quite tasty, but not the way I made it. It was an honest mistake and one I hope nobody else repeats. I accidentally mistook rhubarb for swiss chard and ended up making a swiss chard pie. Here’s the story of exactly what happened and how it happened.
Swiss Chard Pie
My Swiss Chard Pie Disaster
In order to bake a swiss chard pie, you must first confirm the produce you have is in fact swiss chard. This was the first area where I failed when I made a swiss chard pie. We had received our weekly CSA share and I was trying to plan recipes to use up all the ingredients.
I saw a handful of leafy greens with thick reddish stalks. Rhubarb, I thought! One of my favorites and it would be perfect for making a rhubarb pie. I went about preparing the stalks, cleaning and chopping them, adding the vital ingredients including sugar and putting them in a homemade pie crust.
This was quite the labor of love. This was before I began growing my own rhubarb so it had actually been years since I last saw or tasted rhubarb.
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Just before I placed the top crust on it I to treat myself to a piece of the raw rhubarb, already coated now with some sugar and seasoning. I was remembering eating it as a kid, by the stalk, dipped in sugar.
I took one bite and immediately spit it out. What in the world? I ran to my computer and looked up the email I had received detailing each item in our CSA share. Cheese, honey, swiss chard… swiss chard?! Swiss chard vs rhubarb?
Needless to say I pretty much panicked and threw away the sugar-coated swiss chard. I exchanged the filling for some diced apples, a bit of pie seasoning and some sugar. It was a very makeshift “apple pie” but it worked and saved me from wasting a homemade crust.
What is Swiss Chard?
People eat swiss chard in the same way they usually eat beet greens or spinach. Swiss chard can also be used in soups, stews and swiss chard pie. Spinach and kale are popular dark, leafy greens and often overshadow swiss chard.
However, swiss chard is good source of vitamins A, C and K along with iron, magnesium and potassium. In addition to swiss chard pie, this leafy green can be used to make other dishes including casseroles, tacos, soups, fresh salad and as a wrapper for edible dishes, according to Food & Wine.
What Does Swiss Chard Look Like?
Swiss chard is identified by crimson red stalks, crinkled leaves and glossy green leaves, according to Burpee. Unlike rhubarb, which has matte (or not glossy) leaves and the leaves are typically not crinkled heavily – when the leaves are mature.
As you can see in the photo above the stalks on the left are extremely red in color, in contrast the stalks on my rhubarb plant. Also the leaves on my rhubarb plant are matte (not glossy).
As I experienced, swiss chard looks eerily similar to rhubarb. Here are a few photos to show comparison, the rhubarb is growing in my yard. Please take note of the stalks in particular, when compared to swiss chard. Swiss chard vs rhubarb.
Growing & Harvesting Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is known as an easy to grow plant. Swiss chard is planted in the spring or summer. It usually takes about 60 days for a swiss chard plant to mature. Mature plants are typically 12 to 16 inches in height. Swiss chard grows best in full sun although it will tolerate partial shade.
Swiss chard is in harvested from late spring until winter – providing a long growing season. Swiss chard can be harvested once leaves reach five to six inches in diameter or the stalks appear large enough to use.
Similar to rhubarb, swiss chard can be harvested by breaking off the outer leaves of the plant at the base. Be careful not to damage other leaves while harvesting.
Swiss Chard vs Rhubarb
Baking Swiss Chard Pie
Prior to my experience making a swiss chard pie, the only time I had ever eaten swiss chard was in a sautéed dish prepared by my grandmother. Both the leaves and stalks of swiss chard are edible.
If you stumbled upon my post looking for a swiss chard recipe you are in luck. There really is such a thing as swiss chard pie, according to Martha Stewart herself. The pie can be made fresh and eaten on the spot.
Alternatively the pie can be made and frozen, for baking and eating at a later time. A great thing about swiss chard pie too is that it is vegetarian! In order to make a swiss chard pie you will need the following ingredients, in addition to your swiss chard:
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Coarse Salt (Celtic Sea Salt is my favorite!)
- Ground Black Pepper
- Grated Parmesan
- All-Purpose Flour (or Whole Wheat Flour for even more fiber!)
- 8-inch Round Cake Pan (2 inches deep)
Preserving Swiss Chard
As mentioned above swiss chard can easily be frozen in the form of a prepared food. In addition to eating it fresh, swiss chard can be blanched and frozen. The stems of the plant can also be picked.
Preserving swiss chard is a great option to extend the harvest and to enjoy vegetables during the offseason. Read my home canning post to learn everything you need to know about buying canning supplies.
Swiss Chard Pie
What a disaster my swiss chard pie was, I only have to blame myself. But the good part is that now I know what swiss chard looks and tastes like and how to use it.
What’s the worst cooking or baking disaster you can recollect?
*This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.