Chard is one of a growing number of common, yet often overlooked greens lurking at your grocer. Sometimes called Swiss chard or rainbow chard (when it sports brightly colored stalks), it is a relative of the beet.

The taste depends on which part you eat. The large, firm leaves are mild, sweet, earthy and just slightly bitter, a bit milder than spinach. The stalks — which can be white, yellow, red, purple, pink, striped, and so on — resemble flat celery with a sweet taste slightly reminiscent of beets.

When shopping for chard, look for bright, firm leaves and stalks. Wrapped in plastic and refrigerated, it will keep for two to four days.

You can use the leaves as you would spinach, and use the stalks as you would asparagus, but I prefer to roughly chop the leaves and finely chop the thicker stalks; this helps the two parts cook in about the same time. And I enjoy the contrast between the more tender leaves and crunchier stalks.

Generally, any flavor that works well with spinach will partner with chard, including butter, lemon, cream, garlic, shallots and vinaigrette. In fact, if you do nothing more than briefly steam or saute chopped chard, then toss it with any (or any combination) of those, you’ll have a great side dish.

In Spain and Portugal, for example, chard is sauteed with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and sometimes raisins, then dressed with lemon juice.

— J.M. Hirsch

Associated Press