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A Rainbow Chard Recipe Even Kids Can Love

Updated on May 15, 2014

I wasn't really looking for a rainbow chard recipe--what are the chances my family would eat, let alone enjoy it?--but one found me. A relative mentioned he was making pesto for his kids, but given the expense of out-of-season basil, he was going to make swiss chard pesto instead of the traditional Genovese style with basil that we all know and love. I was skeptical, but he said both he & his family really enjoy the chard version. So decided to try it.

Without the heady flavor of basil to offset it, I was afraid my standard dose of garlic would be overwhelming, so I decreased it for this recipe. (Yes, 5 cloves actually represents a decrease! Neither the traditional pesto nor this one is what you want to eat on Valentine's Day, your anniversary or a first date...) Otherwise, I pretty much stuck to a traditional pesto format. I had pine nuts and almonds on hand, so used a mix of those, but walnuts are nice, too. The result? Honestly, not as intoxicatingly delicious as pesto with basil, but much milder & yummier than you might expect from chard. And much closer to "normal" pesto. So go ahead -- try this on your family. You'll squeeze lots of extra nutrients into them, and they may not even know the difference.

(photo: Sarah @ pingsandneedles via photopin cc ~ cropped for shape)

Swiss Chard Pesto

Serves: 8

Normally, pesto recipes call for a food processor, but I'm too lazy to clean all those parts, so I generally use my blender instead and adjust the instructions accordingly. Here's what I do for this rainbow chard recipe...


1 1/2 cups olive oil

5 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed

4 cups swiss chard / rainbow chard, rinsed well and patted dry

1/2 cup walnuts, pine nuts, and/or almonds (choose one or use a combination)

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp fresh black pepper

1 cup fresh grated Parmesan


Put the olive oil in the blender, add the garlic, and liquify. Tear the chard into bits as you add it to the oil-garlic mix in the blender, then liquify the new mixture. Add the nuts and liquify again -- by now it should be looking more pastelike. Add the salt, pepper, and Parmesan and press liquify once more, blending until you have a smooth, very green paste. Cook pasta as directed and stir in your pesto to coat the pasta evenly. Serve with more grated Parmesan at the table.

(pictured: my blender! I use this into the ground ... 6x per week for smoothies, plus pesto, uncooked pasta sauce in the summer, and much more)

How healthy is chard?

After spinach, it's world's healthiest veggie, plus the olive oil & nuts in this recipe are Mediterranean diet savvy.

~ poll ~

How often do you cook with chard?

See results

Why do you cook with chard?

See results
Wild About Greens: 125 Delectable Vegan Recipes for Kale, Collards, Arugula, Bok Choy, and other Leafy Veggies Everyone Loves
Wild About Greens: 125 Delectable Vegan Recipes for Kale, Collards, Arugula, Bok Choy, and other Leafy Veggies Everyone Loves

I have at least one veggie-loving relative who would put this wonderfully reviewed book to excellent use. On the gift list it goes!



This recipe is especially helpful for sensitive-stomached people like me who have an unrequited love for tough/leafy vegetables. (As in, we eat them, they hurt us.) Not in a million years would I have expected to be able to eat raw chard with no bellyache the next day, but chopped into teeny bits as pesto, it worked for me! Now to figure out cabbage...

Did you try my swiss chard pesto? What did you think? Have a great rainbow chard recipe to share?


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    • cire81 lm profile image

      cire81 lm 

      5 years ago

      Good lens keep up the good work. Check out my lens too.

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 

      5 years ago from Diamondhead

      Sound like something worth a try

    • pericaluic profile image


      5 years ago


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I shall try it with my kids/

    • profile image

      Hannah Writes 

      6 years ago

      We grow Swiss card in our garden. I will try this recipe this summer!

    • NejaLovely profile image


      6 years ago

      Gotta try it!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I never had a chard in my life I will try it for sure that recipe sound great.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I don't know that I've ever had chard but you certainly sell it here. The grocery dollar is stretched to the max and we may as well get more power in the punch by choosing high nutrition value foods. The idea of pesto sounds creamy good and now those with those stomach problems can enjoy their fresh veggies again...its all good! :)

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 

      6 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I haven't tried this, but I'm going to share it with my roommate. She loves swiss chard but I've never seen her prepare it this way. Thanks for sharing!


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