Nostalgia enlivened by a Mediterranean twist is the inspiration for this recipe. My mother served potatoes mashed with Swiss chard once when I was a child, and all these years later I’ve found myself thinking about making my own version. Here it is, with some modern and Italian-style twists: Sautéed Swiss Chard Mash. This is a Freestyle Kitchen post, meaning I’m showing you dinner as I prepared it for myself, with some casual and quick iPhone snaps just before tucking in.
One summer when I was a child my mother placed a bowl of creamy, white mashed potatoes laced with flecks of green on the dinner table. My suspicions were immediately aroused, but, quite unaccountably, I found I liked potatoes mashed with Swiss chard.
I’m guessing Mom must have thoroughly removed the stems from the chard and then chopped the leaves quite finely, as I recall a smooth texture. The only seasoning would have been salt and maybe, just maybe, some pepper. After all, Dad was a plain meat-and-potatoes, no-spices kind of guy. I can’t imagine that greens mixed into potatoes would have been a big hit with him, but I don’t remember him complaining about it either.
Sautéed Swiss Chard Mash
For some reason, the idea of Swiss chard and potatoes has been on my mind for weeks now, so I finally made my own version. Maybe the chard Mom grew in her large farm garden was entirely green in colour, but I took full advantage of the colourful stems in the bunch I purchased. I also added garlic and red onion, along with lots of olive oil and pepper for a flavour boost. Essentially, I made sautéed Swiss chard that could stand on its own as a side dish, and then gave it an extra rough chop before mixing it into mashed potatoes.
Since I was already cooking the potatoes, it seemed efficient to steam the chard in a steamer basket over the spuds. The red of the Swiss chard coloured the potatoes a pinkish hue. They look a little odd, admittedly, but I give myself extra points for capturing those nutrients. Then I added the chard to the sautéed stems, onion and garlic.
If I were making sautéed chard as a side dish, I’d have cooked the chard down right in my big sauté pan, but I was using a small pan for stove-top space management purposes. Like spinach, you start with a lot of greens that almost melt down to a surprisingly small amount. In the photo above, the steamer basket was filled to the brim with raw chard, and what you see is the result after five or so minutes of steaming and occasionally turning the very coarsely chopped leaves.
Sautéed Swiss Chard Mash is a rustic-textured and flavourful dish that I enjoyed for dinner with Italian sausage on the side. The recipe makes a family-size quantity to use up an entire bunch of Swiss chard, and it served as a few meals for me (including breakfast — why not?!). Mashed potatoes tend to get watery when stored in the fridge, so I wouldn’t keep the leftovers longer than a day or two.
But if you have three or four people around your table, this Sautéed Swiss Chard Mash might not even make it to the leftover stage.
Ready to Freestyle Some Chard in Your Kitchen?
My kitchen freestyle recipes aren't as formal as other recipes on this site, as they basically tell the story of how I threw a dish together, as a way to bring you into the kitchen with me. In the case of this recipe, I don't think you need me to tell you how to mash potatoes. But I will say that I mashed my potatoes with olive oil instead of butter, to complement the Mediterranean flavours of the sautéed chard. I didn't watch the clock, but I probably pulled this dish together in the time that the sausages were roasting in the oven, about 45 minutes, including several pauses to take photos (which I'm guessing you won't do).
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, woody ends of stems trimmed
- 2 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 large red onion, diced
- kosher or sea salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1-1/2 pounds potatoes, cooked and mashed with olive oil and milk
- salt and pepper, to taste
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the Swiss chard. Holding the bunch together, slice the stems into about 1/2-inch lengths, right up to the base of the leaves. Wash the stems and set aside. Wash the leaves (I found a salad spinner helpful for this) and then roughly slice them crosswise into about 1-inch lengths. If you find other long pieces of stems, slice them and add to the rest.
Add the olive oil to a sauté pan over medium high heat. When the oil has warmed, add the diced red onion, garlic and Swiss chard stems. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, taking care that the garlic doesn't brown (turn the heat down if you need to). Season with a moderate amount of salt and pepper (you'll be tasting and adjusting as the cooking progresses).
You can either steam the Swiss chard leaves in a lidded steamer basket set over the cooking potatoes concurrently with the step above, or add the washed leaves to the sauté pan. Either way, turn the leaves occasionally with tongs until they cook down and soften. Then either transfer the steamed leaves to the sauté pan, or continue to sauté them, adjusting the heat as required and adding more olive oil if the chard seems too dry. Make sure you mix the leaves well with the stems and aromatics, and cook until tender but still characterful (by which I mean to remind you that vegetables should have texture and not be mushy). Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
If you're going to serve the sautéed chard on its own as a side dish, transfer to a serving bowl and optionally sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over to finish. But since we're making a Swiss chard mash here, drain and mash the potatoes to your liking while the chard is finishing up. Then move everything out of the sauté pan and onto the cutting board for another quick chop. Run the knife through at 1/2-inch intervals first in one direction and then the other. Finally, add the chard mixture into the mashed potatoes, stir it in well and give it a final quick mash.
Decant the mash to a serving bowl and enjoy. I reheated leftovers the next day in a small non-stick pan with olive oil, creating the added benefit of some crusty goodness, proving once again that leftovers rule.
Looking for More Side Dish Ideas?
If you’re looking for more ways to love vegetables, why not try some of these: Sautéed Brussels Sprouts Leaves, Roasted Sweet Potato, and Belgian-Style Green Beans? You may begin to think of them as the main attraction on the plate!