swiss chard vs. collard greens
I'm cooking with a lot of new ingredients since I joined a CSA. I also happen to have a new french cookbook my husband got me for Christmas (it's a gorgeous coffe table book, as well!). In it is a recipe for Tourte Aux Blettes (Swiss Chard Pie). The ingredients are:
My question is can I substitute collard greens in this pie? I don't know enough about the taste of cooked collard greens to make that assessment. Thanks for your help!
No, not if you're hoping for anything like a similar taste. Chard is rather on the bland side IMO as greens go. Collards are much more strongly flavored and being much thicker/tougher, take a long time to cook.
I have a limited "repertoire" of greens but all the ones I can think of - collards, mustard, kale. etc. - are all more strongly and differently flavored than chard. You could of course sub them, but it would produce a very different dish and you'd have to adjust prep method to deal with their toughness.
If I had to sub in that recipe, I would probably use spinach and use a different cheese. (Or not, the Gouda might work OK with spinach.) The taste won't be the same but the consistency, method of preparation and cooking time would be similar. But once again, it's not really going to taste anything like this dish. Since it's blander, the chard should "play with others" better than the spinach will. With spinach, I think it'll taste like a spinach tart with seasonings, rather than an amalgam of all of the different flavors.
If you end up substituting collard greens or kale or baby bok choy, as suggested below) for the chard, you will probably need to pre-cook (blanch) them longer than chard due to the more tough nature of the substituted vegetables.
If you do use spinach, make sure you get one of the hardy varieties with more texture (like the curly leaved ones) rather than baby spinach or whatever else they sell in the bag.
I'm used to cooking with chard, but my organic veggie delivery brought me collards one week, as well. I've never cooked with them before, but I tried with them what I ususually do to chard, which is to cut out the thick stems, cut the greens into strips, wash, and shake dry. Then heat a little garlic and olive oil and butter in a large fry pan, toss the greens in the garlic/oil/butter, and then cover for a few minutes. Stir occasionally. Cook just until the green are thoroughly wilted (with chard) and two or three minutes past (with collards). We then eat them like that, bake them in tarts or scramble them with eggs. Despite what people have said about the strong flavor and toughness of collards, I found ours to be lovely and sweet. Perhaps it was the preparation, perhaps our organic veggie delivery people's producers pick them young enough that they're still tender. I dunno, but they were great. Good luck! Let us know how the collards work in the tart!
ps For what it's worth, I think they retain more of their nutritional value when you saute/steam than when you blanche.
Most people are familiar with large, tough collards but often the ones from CSA are tender and young. I think they would make a reasonable substitute but this assumes that you stem them, chop them a little finer than the recipe indicates, and cook them a little longer. I would also try and substitute half chard and half collards the first time I did it.
If the collards are large and tough, I probably wouldn't sub. I prefer collards really well cooked Southern-style with pork and cornbread on the side.