Swiss Chard Pesto and Dip

Red Swiss Chard

Red Swiss Chard

As great as traditional basil is, it’s not the only kind of pesto.  Parsley arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and even carrot tops can be used to make pesto, and are abundant most any time of the year.  The swiss chard stems are too fibrous for the pesto, so keep them for a nice sauté with olive oil, salt and pepper and enjoy another tasty side dish, or use the whole plant to enjoy the Swiss Chard Dip warm or cold. These two recipes are so versatile and both can be made into dips and spreads.  The pesto is a must try!


Use this fresh tasty pesto with any kind of pasta, on top of grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, pizza, tomato and mozzarella salad or on crusty bread.  It is excellent mixed into chopped hard boiled eggs for egg salad.  Spread on sandwiches, grilled cheese or corn on the cob.  It is amazing in vegetable soups and risottos. Added to cream cheese or yogurt makes a lovely dip.

  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard leaves torn into pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon plus the juice
  • Salt
  • 1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • Handful of fresh cilantro or basil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a food processor, combine chard, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and 2 large pinches of salt.  Pulse a few times.  Add the sunflower seeds and cilantro and pulse again.  With machine running, add the oil in a slow stream an process until incorporated. Transfer pesto to a medium sized bowl and stir in cheese.

If you are not using the pesto right away, cover the top with a thin layer of olive oil.  The pesto will keep covered in the fridge for a week or frozen for up to a month (just omit the cheese and add it in just before serving)


This dip is both colourful and great tasting. You can make this and serve warm. I have topped it with fresh grated parmesan and baked it for 20 minutes.  It is a crowd pleaser.

  • 2 bunches green-stemmed Swiss chard (about 1½ lb.)
  • ⅓ cup olive oil,
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup full fat Greek yogurt, sour cream or cream cheese
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp horseradish (optional)
  • dash of salt

Remove ribs and stems from Swiss chard leaves and finely chop. Tear leaves into small pieces. Set both aside separately.

Heat ⅓ cup oil in a large pot over medium-low. Cook reserved ribs and stems, stirring often and adding a splash of water if they start to brown, until tender, 5–7 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add reserved chard leaves by the handful, letting them wilt before adding more; cook, tossing, until all the leaves are wilted and tender, 10–12 minutes total. Let cool. Squeeze excess liquid from mixture, keeping at least 2 Tbsp. of the liquid.

Place Swiss chard mixture and 1 Tbsp. cooking liquid in a food processor and add yogurt, lemon juice. Season with salt and process, adding more cooking liquid if needed, until dip is creamy and only speckles of chard remain. This could take up to 5 minutes.

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