Stir-Fried Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Balsamic Butter

A stir-fry that uses the leaves and the stems of Swiss chard

January 19, 2012

"It may seem strange to stir-fry, rather than sauté, Swiss chard, but I think the stir-fry pan is handy for cooking both the stems and leaves (as well as for browning the nuts). Often recipes will call just for the leaves of Swiss chard, but I think it's a shame to waste the stems," says Susie Middleton, Connecticut chef and author of Fast, Fresh and Green: More Than 90 Delicious Recipes for Veggie Lovers (Chronicle Books, 2010).


  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 12 ounces 'Bright Lights' Swiss chard (do not trim)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


1. In a small bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and dark brown sugar.

2. Pull or cut the stems away from the chard leaves. Cut or rip the leaves into 2- to 3-inch pieces and wash and dry them well. Rinse the stems and slice them crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces.

3. Heat the peanut oil in a large (12-inch) nonstick stir-fry pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot (it will loosen and spread out), add the pine nuts and cook, stirring almost constantly, until they're all lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Watch carefully, because they brown quickly. Remove the pan from the heat and use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer the pine nuts to a heatproof plate or pan, leaving behind as much fat as possible.

4. Return the pan to the heat, add the chard stems and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrunken and beginning to brown lightly, about 5 minutes. (They will begin to crackle in the pan as moisture evaporates.) Add the garlic and stir-fry just until fragrant, a few seconds. Add all of the chard leaves and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and, using tongs, toss the chard leaves in the pan just until wilted (30 to 45 seconds).

5. Scrape the balsamic mixture into the pan, stir, and remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter and toss and stir until it's melted. Fold in half of the pine nuts. Transfer the chard (including all the stems and liquid) to a small serving bowl and garnish with the remaining pine nuts.

Serves 2 to 3



Recipe and photo used by permission.