Swiss chard is a leafy green that is a member of the beet family. It doesn’t grow a beet at the roots, though. The leaves are highly nutritious and provide a healthy dose of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and beta carotene.
Chard leaves are similar in taste to spinach, but are much milder. Harvested chard is a large leaf on a stalk that looks much like a celery stalk. In fact, you can use the stalk in the same recipes as celery for added color and excitement! The leaves can be chopped in a salad, or used in some of these recipes!
This recipe is one of my favorite breakfast recipes, but of course it would work at any time of day. Please note the amounts given are approximate. You can use more or less of any one of these ingredients. Serves 2-3
3/4 pounds greens, cleaned well and sliced into approximate 1 inch pieces (today I used arugula and radish greens, leaving the radish ‘roots’ in the fridge to be munched on later. the greens are good to eat, but they don’t last long!)
2 teaspoons cooking oil
2 stalks green garlic, cleaned as a leek and chopped, or another allium family, whatever you have on hand (onion, green onion, garlic, leek…..)
Pinch red pepper flakes or cayenne
2 Tablespoons cream cheese
4-6 small corn tortillas or 2-3 larger flour ones
Heat the oil and add the garlic, having the greens ready to go, and cook garlic for about 30 seconds. Then add greens and cook until bright green and wilted, add red pepper (and salt and black pepper if you like). Take off heat and stir in cream cheese. Heat tortillas, divide filling among them. Eat and enjoy.
Potato and Chard Stalk Gratin
1 pound small boiling potatoes, scrubbed
Salt to taste
1 pound wide Swiss chard stems (from 1 large or 2 smaller bunches), trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 garlic clove, halved
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or onion (optional)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-fat (1 percent or 2 percent) milk
Freshly ground white or black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 ounce Gruyère, grated (1/4 cup)
1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, and cover with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and boil gently until tender, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Add the chard stalks to the pot, and simmer for another five minutes until crisp-tender. Drain, and retain the cooking liquid if you prefer to use it instead of milk for the béchamel. Cut the potatoes into quarters or halves, depending on their size.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rub a 2-quart baking dish or gratin with the cut clove of garlic, and brush with olive oil.
3. Make the béchamel. Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the shallot or onion, and cook, stirring, until softened, about three minutes. Stir in the flour, and cook, stirring, for about three minutes until smooth and bubbling but not browned. It should have the texture of wet sand. Whisk in the milk all at once, and bring to a simmer, whisking all the while, until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn the heat to very low and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping the bottom and edges of the pan with a rubber spatula, for 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce is thick and has lost its raw flour taste. Season with salt and pepper. Strain while hot into a heatproof bowl or a Pyrex measuring cup.
4. Cut the potatoes into quarters or halves, depending on their size. Combine with the chard stalks and thyme in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Add the béchamel, and stir until the vegetables are coated with sauce. Scrape into the gratin dish. Sprinkle the Gruyère on top.
5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until bubbling and beginning to brown on the top. Serve hot.
Variation: Substitute the stock from the vegetables for some or all of the milk.
Yield: Serves four.
Chard with Caramel Onions and Pine Nuts
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (I prefer cut in quarters and then slice thinly pole-to-pole)
1 bunch swiss chard, about a pound, washed, leaves and stalks separated (pull leaves off the stalks by folding together along stalk and pull the stalk away like pulling a zipper)
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
Toast the pine nuts until golden brown, set aside to cool.
In a large deep skillet or a dutch oven heat the oil over medium-low heat, add the onions and cook them until golden brown and very soft, stirring from time to time, for about 10 minutes.
While the onions are cooking, cut the chard stalks into strips 2 inches long by 1/4 inch wide and tear the leaves into 2-inch pieces.
Add the chard stalks and raisins to the onions and cook them until the stalks are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally while the stalks are cooking. Once tender add the leaves and vinegar, toss all about to coat the leaves with the oil, and cook about 5 minutes or until the leaves are wilted and tender. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a serving dish and top with the reserved pine nuts.
Chard, Onion & Gruyère Panade (Bread Casserole)
1 1/2 lbs thickly sliced yellow onions, a sweet variety if possible ( about 6 cups)
1/2 cup mild-tasting olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lb green swiss chard, thick ribs removed and cut into 1-inch-wide ribbons
water, as needed
10 ounces day-old chewy peasant-style bread, cut into rough 1-inch cubes ( 8 to 10 cups)
3 -4 cups chicken stock (or another flavourful stock) or 3 -4 cups vegetable stock ( or another flavourful stock)
6 ounces fontina (a combination works well) or 6 ounces gruyere (a combination works well) or 6 ounces another melting cheese, coarsely grated ( a combination works well)
1. To prepare onions: Place the onions in a deep saucepan (or Dutch oven) and drizzle and toss with oil to coat, about 1/4 cup. Set over medium-high heat and, shimmying the pan occasionally, cook until the bottom layer of onions is slightly golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Stir and repeat. Once the second layer of onions has colored, reduce heat to low and stir in garlic and a few pinches of salt. Stew, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a pale amber and tender but not mushy, about another 20 minutes. If at any point the onions dry, cover them to trap some moisture.
2. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
3. To prepare chard: Place a few handfuls of leaves in a large saute pan or skillet with a drizzle of oil, a sprinkling of water (if you’ve just washed the chard, it may have enough on the leaves), and a few pinches of salt. Set the pan over medium heat until the water begins to steam, then reduce the heat and stir and fold leaves until just wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. (Leaves should be uniformly bright green, the white veins pliable.
4. To prepare bread: Toss and massage the cubed bread with a few tablespoons of olive oil, a generous 1/4 cup of the stock and a few pinches of salt, to taste.
5. To prepare panade: Use a flameproof, 3-quart souffle dish or enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Assemble the panade in layers, starting with a generous smear of onions, followed by a loose mosaic of bread cubes, a second layer of onions, a wrinkled blanket of chard, and a handful of the cheese. Repeat, starting with bread, the onions and so on, until the dish is brimming. Aim for 2 to 3 layers of each component, then make sure the top layer displays a little of everything. Irregularity in the layers makes the final product more interesting and lovely. Drizzle with any remaining olive oil.
6. Bring the remaining 3 3/4 cups stock to a simmer and taste for salt. Add stock slowly, in doses, around the edge of the dish. For a very juicy, soft panade, best served on its own, like a soup or risotto, add stock nearly to the rim; for a firm but succulent panade, nice as a side dish, fill to about 1 inch below the rim. Wait a minute for stock to be absorbed, then add more to return to the desired depth. The panade may rise a little as the bread swells.
7. Set panade over low heat and bring to a simmer; look for bubbles around the edges (heating it here saves at least 30 minutes of oven time).
8. Cover the top of the panade with parchment paper, then very loosely wrap the top and sides with foil. Place a separate sheet of foil under the panade or on the rack below it, to catch drips.
9. Bake until the panade is piping hot and bubbly. It will rise a little, lifting the foil with it. The top should be pale golden in the center and slightly darker on the edges. This usually takes about 1 1/2 hours, but varies according to shape and material of baking dish and oven.
10. Browning and serving: Uncover panade, raise temperature to 375°F, and leave until golden brown on top, 10 to 20 minutes. Slide a knife down the side of the dish and check the consistency of the panade. Beneath the crust, it should be very satiny and it should ooze liquid as you press against it with the blade of the knife. If it seems dry, add a few tablespoons simmering stock and bake for 10 more minutes.