Swiss Chard…A Vegetable for all Seasons
Swiss chard is my go-to summer, fall and winter vegetable not only because it is delicious but because it is so versatile. The large quilted deep green leaves just beg to be stuffed while the smaller leaves are perfect for stir-fry, side dishes and soups. My favorite variety is called Bright Lights because the stems are a bouquet of multi colors from yellow to white to red and pink. The stems are edible too so the whole plant is planet friendly with no waste!
Swiss chard leaves need very little cooking time and the worst thing to do to it is to boil it. Being mostly water to begin with, it should be added raw to a saute’ or to a stir fry, bubbling soups and stews. It is a great filling for stuffed pasta or mixed with cheese and eggs for a healthy morning breakfast. It is a great add on to salads and a few leaves wedged in a sandwich isn’t bad either.
The nice thing about Swiss chard is its year-long availability so it can stand up to any type of cooking. Go ahead and try my recipe for Swiss Chard Pie, where Swiss chard is celebrated and elevated in a beautiful savory open face “pie."
Swiss Chard Pie
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1-teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ pound chunk pancetta, diced
8 cups torn into pieces Swiss chard leaves, rinsed
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup minced tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup diced Swiss chard, washed
1 ¾ cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into bits
¾ cup buttermilk
Wilt the Swiss chard leaves in a large saute’ pan with just the water clinging to the leaves. Drain in a colander and squeeze out as much water as possible from the leaves. You should have about 1- 1/2 cups. On a cutting board, coarsely chop the leaves and set aside.
In a large sauté pan melt 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and all the butter. Stir in the onions and cook them slowly over low heat until they soften and begin to caramelize. Stir in the brown sugar and the vinegar and cook until the onions are glazed looking. Transfer to a large bowl.
In the same pan heat the remaining olive oil and add the pancetta. Cook until the pancetta begins to give off its fat and begins to brown. Stir in the red pepper flakes and the Swiss chard and cook for about 4 minutes stirring frequently. Stir in the parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to the bowl with the onions. Cool to room temperature. Add the cheese and mix in. Filling can be made two days ahead and refrigerated.
Tart Dough Instructions:
In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt and blend with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture resembles oatmeal flakes. Stir in the buttermilk and combine with a spoon or your hands until a rough ball of dough is formed. Do not over work the dough; it will be soft and sticky.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours. Or make the dough the day before. When ready to use, roll the dough into a 14- inch diameter on a large sheet of lightly floured parchment paper. Place the dough on the parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Spread the filling evenly over the dough to within 1 ½- inch of the edges.
Bring the edges of the dough up around the filling to form a rustic open face pie.
Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned.
Serve hot or warm cut into wedges.