My step-mom played an important role in getting him to eat a greater variety of foods… it’s hard to be so picky when your mother-in-law cooks you dinner every Sunday and isn’t afraid to call you out on your pickiness!
To this day I’m thankful for her, because that delicious combination of caramelized onions and Swiss chard quickly morphed from a meal where I thought “if I cross my fingers and serve it with pasta, MAYBE, just MAYBE he won’t notice…” to a much-requested and my husband’s FAVORITE side dish!
I think the reason he likes this caramelized onions swiss chard recipe so much is because it doesn’t cook fast. In fact, it’s one of the few dishes I make that actually take some time to prepare.
Because the onions cook slow, on low, they get a chance to release their natural juices and caramelize… i.e., they get sweet. So sweet, that your family just might forget that they’re eating onions!
Although this side dish isn’t hard, it does take about 45 minutes or so to make. Because of this, it’s usually the first thing I start when I’m cooking dinner.
I also tend to make this when I’m making something else that takes about the same amount of cooking time, like lemon and herb sheet pan chicken, spatchcock chicken or almond crusted chicken. That way I don’t have to wait on the side dish to serve dinner.
One good thing about the slow cooking temperature, is that you don’t have to hover over the stove the entire time. I like to be close by for the first 5 minutes or so, to make sure the onions to get stuck to my cast iron skillet, and to make sure that all the onions are covered well in my cooking fat (my favorite is re-using bacon grease!).
Once all the onions are coated in fat, and I’m sure nothing is sticking, I move on to whatever else I’m cooking that night and come back to stir occasionally.
Caramelized Onions Swiss Chard Recipe
I’ve made this caramelized onion Swiss chard recipe about a million times since we started the Whole30 (kidding… sort of) and have a few wise words to share:
My absolute favorite cooking fat for this recipe is bacon grease. Yum. Yum. Yum.
We’re on the Whole30 right now so my reserved bacon grease is off limits. (Although I buy nitrate-free bacon, I’ve only found one brand of bacon that doesn’t have an added sugar of some sort. That bacon is roughly $8 for 10 ounces, and suffice to say, bacon is a no-go when you’re doing the Whole30 on a budget!)
Coconut oil earns the award for second place though, and the slight sweet of the coconut adds to the sweet of the onions. I’ve purchased coconut oil from Costco, from Walmart, this brand on Amazon, and from Tropical Traditions.
Another option is olive oil too, which would be great if you want a bit more of a savory swing to the caramelizing that’s happening.
No matter what type of onion you choose, you simply cannot go wrong. Depending on whatever is on sale, I’ve had both yellow, white and sweet onions in my pantry and they all taste delicious.
You could even do red onions! I’ve included SOME red onion in this dish before, but never 100% red onion. The onions might not get quite as sweet, so keep that in mind with the preferences and tendencies of the people you’re feeding.
I typically use rainbow Swiss chard simply because I like all the colors (and a variety of colors in a diet generally means a variety of nutrients), but you can use red Swiss chard as well.
This cooking method would work with other hearty greens, like collards, mustard greens or beet greens.
You can also use slightly less sturdy greens, like kale or dandelion greens, but know that they’ll be done much quicker than the Swiss chard I’m calling for in this recipe.
I’ve tried this recipe with both fresh garlic and granulated garlic and hands down, granulated garlic wins out every time.
Feel free to stray from my own results, but if you’re using fresh garlic make sure you watch your pan closely. Fresh garlic burns quickly and easily, and nothing will ruin your dinner quicker than burned garlic!
Caramelized onions and Swiss chard is fantastic as leftovers, probably because it’s soft when it’s done and therefore it’s soft when you reheat. In fact, my son recently asked if I would put these leftovers I his school lunch!
I would have, if I didn’t already have plans to serve it with a couple fried eggs on top! 😉
If you do plan on serving this for leftovers, I encourage you to start with a double batch. I usually use my 12” cast iron skillet to make this, but you’ll want to use something bigger like a 5 quart pot instead. You’ll lose a smidgen of flavor with the cast iron, but NOT spending another 45 minutes cooking a second batch is worth the trade off in my opinion!
- 2 medium/large onions, peeled
- 1 lb Swiss chard (any variety)
- 2-4 Tbsp cooking fat (I prefer bacon grease)
- ½ - 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 - 2 tsp salt
- ½ - 1 tsp pepper
- Preheat your skillet on low and add your cooking fat.
- Meanwhile, cut your onions in half and thinly slice all halves. When all the onions are sliced, add to the pan.
- Stir every few minutes, for the first 5-7 minutes or so, to ensure the onions are thoroughly coated with fat, are not sticking to the pan and are cooking. Adjust the heat if necessary, but keep it on low.
- Meanwhile, thoroughly wash the chard and dry completely. Then thinly slice the chard.
- When the onions begin to brown slightly and turn translucent, add the chard. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until the chard wilts and the onions turn brown and caramelize.
- Season to taste with granulated garlic, salt and pepper. Serve warm.