You might not realize how easy it is to turn those colorful bunches of Swiss chard leaves you see in the produce aisle into delicious weeknight side dishes. Swiss chard is a lot like spinach, only slightly sturdier, so I use an easy three-step method to soften its texture slightly. First I remove the stem and cut the leaves into manageable pieces. I sauté the leaves quickly in a little oil until they wilt, and then I cover them to steam briefly. I add a flavorful aromatic like garlic, along with a bit of salt and red chile flakes, and I have a side dish that I can serve with everything from roasted chicken to steamed fish.
This basic method is plenty satisfying, but Swiss chard is so versatile that I often add different flavors to it to match my mood and the other food I’m serving for dinner. These flavor additions consist of a few pantry ingredients that you can quickly prepare before sautéing the chard. Just pick your favorite flavors, get them ready to go, and follow the basic cooking method. Be sure to read both the recipe and the flavor addition before starting so you’ll know when to make the additions and, in some cases, substitutions to the basic recipe.