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Feb 23, 2005 08:41 AM

The French and swiss chard

  • k

This was the most bizarre thing I've ever made in my life.

My CSA sent swiss chard and I'm generally at a loss as to what to do. I found a recipe from Provence in my new French cookbook so I decided to try it. Oddly, it was listed under 'desserts'. I made several substitutions, as noted.

The recipe called for a shortbread crust but I had leftover puff pastry and used that instead.

Lined a lightly greased pie pan with the pastry.
Wilted over high heat and squeezed 3/4 of a lb of swiss chard (the recipe called for 1.5 lbs)
Mixed 2 eggs with 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Added 2 oz of a young parmesan cheese, grated (you can also use Edam, Gouda, or Emmenthaler, according to the recipe), 2.5 oz of pine nuts (I had a little less and I toasted them), 2/3 cup dried cranberries (the recipe calls for currants but mine were all dried and hard), 1 tsp lemon rind, fresh ground pepper and the chard. Mix, pour it into the shell, cover with second half of pastry and pinch the edges to seal. Brush with egg yolk and milk.

I baked it at 400 for about 25 minutes. The recipe says to bake it for 45 but with the puff pastry it would have burned - it came out beautifully - very 'french pastry' looking. I wanted to take a picture.

It was wonderful! Still bizarre but wonderful! Who would've thought that pine nuts, cheese and swiss chard would come out like a dessert? Very sweet and reminded me of something you'd have at brunch with eggs. You definitely want something savory to go with this dish - like a fritata. I wouldn't serve it for dessert, but brunch or breakfast, definitely.

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  1. c
    charm city nosher

    Swiss chard (IMHO) is excellent by itself. You can steam it - slice the tender parts of the stem and include with the leaves and add a little lemon and olive oil. Or cut up as for steaming and saute in olive oil.

    7 Replies
    1. re: charm city nosher

      Ah, les blettes. I actually prefer a savoury tourte aux blettes, and Patricia Wells' bistro cooking has an excellent version.

      There's also blettes a la creme in Elizabeth David's An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, which is a fantastic substitute for creamed spinach.

      In Marcella Hazan's Marcella Cucina, too, there's a swiss chard and barley soup which is about the best soup I've ever had. Lond live swiss chard.

      1. re: Miles

        I was actually thinking of toying with a savory version of this with all the same ingredients minus the sugar, maybe a bit more cheese, some garlic, would another egg be necessary, perhaps some prosciutto or bacon? I don't have the cookbook you mention but will look online - any pointers would be great!

        1. re: krissywats

          Bacon and chard are made for each other. I usally sautee it quickly in bacon fat with garlic and a bit of lemon juice.

          1. re: Chris VR

            The imagination runs wild! Bacon fat, garlic, lemon juice -- and prawns (shrimp)! Or scallops. or both, with mussels as well. A dash of white wine, perhaps? Some green onions? Etc., etc.

            1. re: Phil

              Hi. I, too, had a lot of chard to use, and found a great recipe in the Time Life series, "The Good Cook - Vegetables". You proably can find it in your library... and it has many other chard recipes, too... here's the one I made, and I'll tell you the changes I made from the original recipe...

              Swiss Chard Pie (page 98)
              Serves 6 to 8

              30 Swiss chard leaves, torn into pieces (I usually remove the really big stems and ribs, and am not so exact about the number of leaves)
              1 small onion, chopped
              4 tbsp butter
              2 eggs, lightly beaten (I used 4 eggs)
              1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (I have a note: "extra", so I must have used lots of cheese)
              1/3 cup stemmed seeded chopped green chiles (I probably used the canned kind, or else sauteed the fresh ones, and, one chile would be enough for me, not 1/3 cup)

              Preheat oven to 350. Saute onion in butter, add chard (I'd add the chiles, too, if using fresh). Might also add garlic. Cook until chard is well wilted. Put the veggies in a greased piepan. Mix eggs with a little salt and pepper, pour over the chard. Stir a little, and spread cheddar on top. Bake 20 to 30 minutes until firm and maybe browning a bit. Very good.

        2. re: Miles

          "long live swiss chard" how true, and the Turks have a saying

          the more chard leaves you chew the more branches are added to your family tree.

        3. re: charm city nosher

          In Spain they saute Swiss chard (acelgas) with olive oil and little bits of jamon serrano (little cubes called "tacos"). Swiss chard is a vegetable that is best when thoroughly cooked.