Sunday, September 28, 2014

Swiss can't miss

Swiss chard is all over the farmer markets the last couple weeks, and it's a green that I love.

Chard is part of the beet family -- pretty much the same plant, but bred for its leaves rather than its root.  

Its flavor is unique, but close to escarole and spinach, and of course, beet greens.  Swiss chard is wonderful stewed with beans in a "minestra," or just sauteed in olive oil and garlic.  Excellent in soups, too.

I had a couple bunches on hand and decided on a pie -- a quiche, a pita.  My aim was something like spanakopita, but using the chard instead of the spinach, and using a short crust pastry instead of phyllo. 

Several bunches of swiss chard, well washed, stems removed, cut into small pieces.  (You'll have 10-12 cups loosely packed chopped leaves.)
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
~ 1/4 lb salt pork, rind removed, chopped fine

Saute the salt pork in a bit of oil in large Dutch oven until lightly browned.  Remove.

Add onion, garlic.  Saute a few minutes until tender.

Add Swiss chard.  Cover pot, and let it steam and collapse.  Your 12 cups of loosely packed leaves will collapse quickly into a couple cups of cooked chard.

Remove the lid, and stir the chard until it is well wilted.  Let moisture evaporate.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat.  Add 2 Tbp flour, mix well, and let cool.  Transfer to a mixing bowl. 

To the cooled, cooked chard, add:

6 oz ricotta or cottage cheese
~ 1 cup cubed mozzarella
~ 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
 A few grates of nutmeg (~ 1/8 tsp)
Salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp each)
2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk
2 Tbp cream
~ 1 cup cooked brown rice (or white rice, or orzo pasta, or similar)

Mix well, and turn into a 9-inch pie plate lined with your favorite pastry crust.  Dot with butter.  Cover with a second crust.  Crimp edges.  Wash surface with egg wash.  Cut steam vents.

Bake at 375°F for 50-60 minutes, until nicely browned.

Let cool before slicing.  Excellent at room temperature or very slightly warm. 

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