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

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.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 45 mins
Serves: 6 servings

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  • 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. 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. 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. 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.