Despite its name, red Swiss chard (mángold in Hungarian) did not originate in Switzerland, it’s native to the Mediterranean region. All chard varieties are descendants of the sea beet, and they were already cultivated as a leaf vegetable in the ancient Greece. Swiss chard is extremely rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants; in ancient times it was used as a medicine to treat allergies, constipation and general pain. In Hungary red Swiss chard is available from June until late autumn, it tolerates a wide range of soils and weather conditions with ease.
Raw leaves are bitter, it’s caused by oxalic acid, which is found in the stalk of Swiss chard. When cooked, the vegetable loses the bitter flavour and makes for a more refined taste. Swiss chard can be sauteed, blanched, stewed, baked, even grilled. I usually prepare it the same way as creamed spinach, or I layer it with meat and rice (chard leaves can also be stuffed similar to cabbage leaves).