Layered Swiss chard

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.

Red Swiss chard
Red Swiss chards in our kitchen garden – photo:

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).

Layered Swiss chard – photo:


For the Swiss chard layer:

  • 1 kg (~2 1/4 lbs) Swiss chard leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp lard
  • salt to taste

For the meat layer:

  • 500 g (~1 lb) ground pork
  • 1 tbsp lard
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp summer savory
  • 2 tsp sweet ground paprika

For the rice layer:

  • 200 g (~1 cup) rice
  • 500-600 ml (~2 – 2 1/2 cups) water or stock
  • salt to taste

For the topping:

  • 300 g (~2 1/2 cups) sour cream

Thoroughly wash the Swiss chard leaves. Remove stem and the central thick vein. Stack chard leaves on top of one another and slice them into 5-6 cm/ 2-inch strips.


Heat lard in a very large pot. Add minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, until garlic is fragrant. Stir in the chard, coating it in lard. (Depending on the pot’s size you may add the chard in 2-3 batches.) Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until chard is wilted. Set aside.

Rince the rice and cook in stock or water until almost done. Season with salt.

In a skillet heat lard, saute onions and garlic, then add ground pork and stir-fry until it turns white. Season with salt and pepper, add summer savory and paprika. Pour in 100-150 ml / 1/2 cup of water, cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes.

Grease a baking pan or casserole dish. Put half of the cooked Swiss chard in the pan, and spread the cooked rice over it. Pile the pork on the rice, finally cover it with the remaining chard. Coat the top with sour cream. Cook in the oven at 200°C/392°F for about 35-40 minutes.

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