Monday, August 01, 2011
Meatless Monday: Swiss chard, ricotta and tomato bake
I'm officially a fan (perhaps even an afficionado) of Swiss chard now. It took a while. Yes, I've been dutifully buying plastic boxes of those pretty baby salad leaves that are available in most supermarkets' vegetable aisles here in Estonia, but that's not what Swiss chard is about. Last year I took a leap and grew several varieties (silverbeet, rhubarb chard, rainbow chard) on my vegetable patch, but didn't do much with them. I tried to sauté them once or twice, but wasn't so keen on the flavour (I was pregnant at the time, so perhaps my tastebuds were just off?). However, I did decide to give the leafy version of one of my favourite vegetables another go this year.
I'm happy I did.
I don't know if it's the fact that my chard has been freshly picked (Elise suggests that this makes all the difference), or whether my tastebuds are working properly now, but I love the vegetable this year. I mean, look at that colour!!!
The recipe below is adapted from the British Olive magazine (June 2011), and I've made it three times already. There are so many things to like about this particular dish. It tastes delicious. It uses an heretil underused vegetable. It's two meals in one - you get a warm oven bake to serve on the first day, and it cuts into neat tiny squares when cold, so you can serve it as a tasty nibble. And there's no need to separate the stalks/ribs from the leaves, which is unusual for swiss chard (granted, I've picked the leaves when they're about the size of my hand and stalks the thickness of my fingers.)
If you don't like - or you cannot get hold of - Swiss chard, then don't despair. Good grown-up spinach leaves work just as well (blanch them first, then rinse under cold water and drain thoroughly before sautéing).
Swiss chard and ricotta bake
(Lehtpeedi ja ricotta ahjuvorm)
Serves six to many*
400 to 450 g (a little under 1 lb) Swiss chard
1 Tbsp butter
1 to 2 garlic gloves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
0.5 tsp ground nutmeg
250 g ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
100 g grated cheese
2-3 ripe tomatoes or a handful of cherry or small plum tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 220 C/450 F.
Rinse the chard, drain thoroughly and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Chop the leaves and stalks coarsly (see photo above).
Heat butter on a large frying pan, add the chard and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the chard is wilted and tender.
Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Season generously with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Drain any excess liquid, if necessary. The chard mixture should be on the dry side.
Mix ricotta and eggs until combined, then stir in the cheese. Season, then fold in the sautéed chard mixture.
Spoon the mixture into a 2-quart oven dish.
Cut tomatoes into half or slice them thickly. Scatter on top of the ricotta-chard-egg mixture, then drizzle with some olive oil.
Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the dish is set and golden brown on top.
* Serve hot with a green salad or cold, cut into small pieces.
Here are some more Swiss chard recipes from some of my favourite foodbloggers:
Simply Recipes (Elise)
A Veggie Venture (Alanna)
Kalyn's Kitchen (Kalyn)
Smitten Kitchen (Deb)
David Lebovitz (David)
Farmgirl Fare (Susan)