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What Are Swiss Chard and Garlic Scapes?

July 27, 2010

Yesterday I shared with you a recipe for Swiss Chard and Green Bean Stew. Some of the ingredients in this recipe are not the most widely used or well-known. Here is some information about two of the ingredients, including what they are, their nutritional benefits, and how they can be used.

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard

What is it? Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that is somewhat similar to spinach, although a bit more bitter tasting. It has wide, fan-like leaves and a crunchy stem that comes in different colors.

What are its key nutrients? Vitamin K, magnesium, and potassium, which help maintain bone health; Vitamin A, lutein, zexanthin, which help maintain eye health; Vitamin E, which helps protect heart health.

What are its nutrition facts? 1 cup of cooked Swiss chard has 35 calories, 3 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 0 g fat, 313 mg sodium

When is it in season? June to August

How is it used? Swiss chard can be sauteed with garlic and olive oil (like spinach), added to soups, made into a stew, made into pesto, added to pasta dishes.

Garlic Scapes

Garlic ScapesWhat are they? Garlic scapes are the flowering stems of garlic shoots that poke out of the ground as garlic grows. They are harvested before garlic is fully grown in order to allow the garlic bulb to fully grow. They taste like garlic, but with less bite.

What are their key nutrients? Since garlic scapes come from garlic, they contain they same nutrients: antioxidants allicin and vitamin C, which are involved in heart health; Selenium, a mineral that protects against heart disease and maintains healthy skin.

What are its nutrition facts? Garlic scapes are basically calorie free!

When are they in season? June

How are they used? Remove the top bulbous part of the scape and the woody ends. The rest of the scape can be chopped up and added to a stir fry, added to a pesto or dips, grilled, or added to pasta dishes.

Do you use Swiss chard or garlic scapes? If so, what are your favorite uses and recipes?

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    1. Yes! It’s surprising, but some vegetables are naturally high in sodium. Some others to consider are beets, celery, spinach, and seaweed.

  1. This the first time I have had garlic scapes in our CSA – we grilled them in with the other grilled veggies and have treated them like scallions – thanks for all of this info!

    1. Mmmm…that sounds delicious! Anything with sweet potatoes and nutmeg is good to me! Plus this dish is brimming with nutrients!! Thanks for posting!

  2. Interesting to learn about these two vegetables. Love the way you encourage discussion at the end of your posts.

    When I was in Totnes, England (English countryside), my friends showed me a plentitude of wild garlic (not sure if they were garlic scapes) on our nature hike. OMG – you could just pick and eat the leaves – it was so delicious! : )

    1. Thanks! And thank you for adding to the discussion!! That sounds so great! I think it is really amazing to see food growing in its natural environment. I have more of this to come from my Israel trip!

  3. Scapes are a standard side dish in spring in Korea (In Northern China, too, I think). We cut the scapes into inch-long pieces and lightly saute them in oil. (Any oil is fine; I like to use a few drops of sesame oil for its rich flavor.) Once the scapes have just started to wilt, add soy sauce and lite corn syrup. For ~ 1 pound of scapes I use about 1.5 tsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp corn syrup. Saute the scapes until they’re well-coated with the sauce and the sauce has cooked down a bit. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
    Fresh scapes will last 3-4 days in the fridge before getting slimy. Cooked scapes will last about a week. In the spring, when they’re in season, I eat them every morning with a little rice and some other Korean side dishes. However, they’re not calorie-free. 100g (about 2/3 cup) of scapes have about 150 calories.
    Swiss chard is fantastic in miso soup!

    1. Christina, thank you so much for this delicious preparation of garlic scapes! I will have to try it when I get them from my CSA this spring/summer (which I can’t wait for!). It’s so interesting that 2/3 cup of garlic scapes has 150 calories – who would have thought!

  4. I love garlic scapes! I do not remove the bulbous part at the top – it tastes great! I cut the very tips (the ribbon-thin dry bit) and the woody ends – but eat everything else. It is a bit difficult to grill as they are often very curly and poke through the grates, but so worth it. They make a fun popping sound as you grill them.

  5. Finally, the name of Garlic Scapes! I bought them at Rancho 99 some time ago but did not know their name. I sauted them with heads on, with Mung? Bean Sprouts, the big white ones, and Chinese pale yellow Chives?. I used sesame oil, olive oil, sesame seeds for calcium, and a touch of my favorites Black Bean Garlic Paste and Chili Garlic Paste. DELICIOUS and beautiful!