Saturday, May 11, 2024


Just-picked red chard.

A gorgeous bunch of red chard landed in my kitchen this week. Picked in a friend’s garden, it was almost too beautiful to eat.

Cooking, of course, darkens the bright green of the leaves and leaches out the red of the stems. While the chard would look stunning in a salad, chard, unlike spinach, is—to my taste—a little too chewy raw.

I decided on a rice recipe from València for arroz con acelgas. But, instead of the snails called for in the recipe, I added some chicken and sausage. For a vegetarian version, just skip the meat. The red chard stems faded but some bits of (canned) piquillo peppers gave the rice some pop. 

This rice is meloso, or juicy, not “dry” like paella. But it shouldn’t get “creamy” like risotto, so don’t stir the rice because stirring releases the starch. Use a medium-short grain variety of rice, the same as for paella. Bomba is one of the best because it won’t get gummy.

Rice with red chard, chicken, sausage, and chickpeas. The chard stems have faded to pink, but piquillo peppers give a pop of bright red.

Rice with Chard and Chickpeas
Arroz con Acelgas y Garbanzos

¼ cup olive oil
12 ounces boneless chicken thighs, cut in pieces (optional)
4 ounces pork sausage, sliced (optional)
½ cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch chard, stems and leaves (6-8 ounces)
1 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera (smoked paprika)
½ cup grated tomato pulp
4 ½ cups water or stock
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups medium-short grain rice
1 medium potato, cut in small pieces
1 tablespoon seedless raisins (optional)
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 piquillo peppers, cut in strips
½ cup boiling water

Heat the oil in a cazuela or deep sauté pan. Brown the pieces of chicken and sausage. Skim them out and reserve. Add the onion to the oil in the pan. Lightly crush the garlics and add them whole to the pan.

Mix in rice and chard, then do not stir the rice again!
Separate chard stems from the leaves. Chop the stems and add to the pan. Sauté until the onion is softened. 

Stir in the pimentón. Add the tomato pulp. Return the chicken and sausage to the pan. Add the water or stock and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the rice. Add the potato, raisins, if using, and chickpeas. Roll and cut the chard leaves and add them to the pan. 

Stir briefly to combine the ingredients, but don’t stir the rice any more. Cook on medium-high heat 10 minutes.

Add the strips of pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Do not stir the rice. Pour the boiling water over the rice, give the pan a shake and cook on low 3 minutes. Rice and potatoes should be cooked. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with foil and allow to rest 5 minutes.

Serve the rice from the cazuela. 

More recipes with chard:


  1. How lovely! I was growing some chard, but the flea beetles ate every single stem, before it got to be about 4 inches tall!

  2. Mad Dog: I have trouble with blackbirds nipping at the leaves. They didn't destroy the chard but finished off the sugar-snap peas.