Swiss Chard Pesto

I have a weird thing about the color of my food… If food isn’t the “right” color, I just can’t eat it. I have never been a fan of rainbow colored cupcakes or purple ketchup. I realize that they may taste exactly the same despite the food color, but I just can’t get past the color.

So, I was slightly less than thrilled to get a giant bunch of Swiss chard with bright purple/pink stems in my CSA a few weeks ago. You see, the last time I had swiss chard, I wilted some of it into a perfectly delicious creamy pasta sauce thinking that it would be a healthy addition to the dish and a great way to use the chard. Much to my dismay, the pasta sauce turned pink. Creamy pasta sauce is not supposed to be pink! I forced myself to have a few bites, but it definitely ruined the dish for me.

I was debating what to do with the Swiss chard while Mardi of eat. live. travel. write. was here a few weeks ago, and she had a brilliant idea… She suggested using the swiss chard in a pesto. I knew I had to do something with the chard (I can’t bear to waste CSA veggies), so I went with it. We also had a large bunch of basil from our CSA that needed to be used, so I added that to the pesto as well to balance out the flavor of the chard (which can be bitter at times).  The flavor was great – a bit milder than the garlic scape pesto I made a few weeks ago.

I made a fairly large batch so that we could enjoy some for dinner that night (with a tomato and mozzarella salad and focaccia bread) and freeze some for later. I look forward to enjoying it on pasta throughout the year!

Swiss Chard Pesto

  • 2 tablespoons + 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 ounces freshly grated pecorino cheese
  • 1 bunch of basil leaves (about 1/2 cup packed)
  • Kosher salt

Heat two tablespoons of oil and the garlic in a saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot and the garlic has become fragrant, gradually add the Swiss chard, wilting it into the oil and sauteeing for a few minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, combine the walnuts, pecorino cheese, and basil leaves in the bowl of a food processor.  Add in the cooled chard and garlic.  Pulse to roughly chop and combine the ingredients. Then, stream in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil while blending to your desired consistency.  Adjust seasoning with salt.

To freeze the pesto, fill an ice cube tray with leftover pesto and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Once the pesto cubes have frozen, they can be transferred to a ziplock bag and kept for a few months.

20 Responses to Swiss Chard Pesto

  1. Love this twist on pesto. Usually I’m an arugula-only kind of pesto girl, but this sounds great!

  2. Eliana says:

    I usually only like basil pesto but this looks so delicious, it’s worth a try.

  3. Joanne says:

    I love making pesto out of random greens that I have lying around. I’ve never tried swiss chard though! Looks good.

    I know what you mean about things being weird colors…I have a mental block about stuff like that too!

  4. Sarah says:

    Mmm. I have some chard sitting in the fridge asking me to use it up. I shall make pesto. Thanks.
    I totally agree with the food color thing – blue food doesn’t occur naturally – it shouldn’t be eaten.

  5. Maria says:

    I’ve never made pesto with swiss chard. Great idea!

  6. Sarah? What she said.

    Re the color of food? I once made a typewriter for my husband’s secretary (if that word is unfamiliar, back in the olden days, a typewriter was used for letters and such before computers!) and he wanted it just like her IBM BLUE Selectric. I wish I had a picture; I was up til 2 in the morning finishing it up, tootsie roll pop keys and all.

    So I was asked to come to his office for the birthday celebration. Everyone loved it but I just could not take a bite of royal blue food; pink might be easier for some things…but I can certainly get why you struggled with pasta sauce…and am glad you did cause now I have a reason for MY CSA haul of shard!

  7. I like the sound of using swiss chard in a pesto!

  8. Anh says:

    OH, swiss chard pesto! Now I like this idea, a lot!

  9. jenn says:

    Cool. A new kind of pesto for me to try. Besides, I’ve been meaning to give swiss chard a try for quite some time now. I can totally imagine this in some pasta or a salad. yum!!

  10. Liana says:

    Swiss chard is one of my favorite greens! I love it plain and simple, sauteed with oil and garlic, served with some crusty Calabrese bread, dunked in left over tomato pasta sauce…that pesto sounds like a great way for me to switch it up though!

  11. Mei Teng says:

    I love pesto sauce. Excellent photo! :)

  12. Isn’t it great? So glad you tried and liked this! I made a similar one with spinach from our organic boxes last week and it was great!!

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  15. Steph says:

    I just made this — delish!

  16. JL says:

    but what can i do with the stems? LOL
    the red food thing – i harvested one lonely beet from my garden and decided spur of the moment to julienne it and throw in with other mixed stir fried veg – of course it all turned pink and was hard to look at, but tasted just fine. i love beets but that pink thing, yuk!

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