The Secret Ingredient (Cranberry): Braised Rainbow Chard with Cranberries

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

The mighty little cranberry continues to fascinate me the more I investigate into its background. Did you know that only 5% of cranberries are sold fresh? And from my perspective, I only see that 5% from November to December. So, we need recipes that use the other 95% of harvested cranberries that are turned into juices and sauces, and, as we use them in this recipe, dried cranberries.

Everyone knows Thanksgiving is really all about the sides. I usually wind up making more sides than there are guests at my table.

What I love about this braised rainbow chard is how festive it is. So many recipes call for us to discard the stems, but when they are ruby red and beautiful, I just can't bear the thought. They match the season and the cranberries in the dish, while adding a contrasting hearty texture, so I braise the stems first with garlic and onions and dried cranberries, and add the leaves just to wilt at the very last moment. The result is a sweet-savory combination that is healthy and delicious, and festive. It just looks like Thanksgiving, and is a light cornerstone to any overstocked plate. And if you're not making it on Thanksgiving, and want to jazz it up, I recommend crumbled over a touch of fresh goat cheese just before serving, to add creaminess and tang.

About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the French in a Flash series for Serious Eats.

The Secret Ingredient (Cranberry): Braised Rainbow Chard with Cranberries

About This Recipe

Yield:6 as a side
Active time:15 minutes
Total time:45 minutes


  • 28 ounces red-stemmed chard (2 bunches)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into half-moons 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. 1

    Prepare chard by cutting stem out of center of each leaf. Trim ends of each stem, then cut on bias in 1 1/2-inch pieces. Tear leaves into 3 or 4 pieces each.

  2. 2

    In medium straight-sided sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and lower heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cranberries, chard stems only, garlic clove, and water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and braise on low heat for 30 minutes.

  3. 3

    Once chard stems are tender, remove lid and increase heat to high. Add chard leaves, and use tongs to turn leaves in pan until just wilted, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot, drizzled with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Optionally, you may wish to add crumbled fresh goat cheese on top at last moment before serving.


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