Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Swiss Chard: Leafy Green Goodness (3 recipes)

by Joanna Pruess at Specialty Food Magazine

SWISS CHARD’S EARTHY, BITTER FLAVOR MARRIES WELL WITH THE SALTINESS IN PORK PRODUCTS, LIKE PANCETTA AND SAUSAGES, as well as cheese. But its role as a strong source of vitamins A, C, E and K, calcium, magnesium and iron, not to mention dietary fiber, make Swiss chard an incredibly healthful food.
Easy to cook and adaptable to many cuisines, Swiss chard, a member of the beet family, can also be used in place of other leafy greens such as spinach, mustard greens and kale. Its ability to stand up to late spring and early fall frost gives it great staying power.

SWISS CHARD, POTATO AND SAUSAGE SOUP
Yield: 24 (8-ounce) portions
Preparation time: 1 hour
Shelf-life: at least 3 days

Customers will love this stick-to-your-ribs soup for either a satisfying lunch or dinner. Use a large pot so you don’t have to cook the chard in batches. For a richer soup, substitute more cream and stock for the water used to boil the potatoes.

INGREDIENTS
2½ pounds spicy Italian pork sausages, casing removed
1 ounce olive oil
2½ pounds Swiss chard, trimmed and washed
½ ounce garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces half-&-half or light cream
12 ounces chicken stock
4½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1½ ounces balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


METHOD
1. Cook sausages in a large, deep casserole dish over medium-high heat until fat is rendered and meat is lightly browned, chopping them into pieces as they cook. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving any fat in the pan and add olive oil.
2. Remove stalks of the chard and chop finely. Slice leaves. Stir stalks into the pan, cook for 5 minutes, add leaves and garlic and cook over medium heat until chard is wilted and bright green. Add half-&-half and stock, cover and cook until chard is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil. Adjust heat so water is simmering, cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and drain, reserving cooking water.
4. Return potatoes to the pot and mash until lumpy. Add about 6 cups of reserved liquid into the pot; add chard and reserved sausage. Bring to a simmer, add balsamic vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.

NUTRITIONAL DATA (per 8-ounce serving): Calories: 300; Cholesterol: 55 mg; Sodium: 520 mg; Fat: 19 g; Dietary fiber: 3 g

VENETIAN-STYLE SAVORY TORTA
Yield: 2 tortas or 24 (5-ounce) slices
Preparation time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Shelf-Life: at least 3 days
This 18th century-style torta of bitter greens, mushrooms and pancetta is a pleasing first course or hearty lunch entrée. It can be served warm or at room temperature.

INGREDIENTS
For the crust:
18 ounces (4 cups) all-purpose unbleached flour
½ teaspoon salt
6 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
4 large egg yolks
3 ounces extra virgin olive oil
6–8 ounces cold water

For the filling:
1½ pounds pancetta, cut in ¼-inch pieces
7 ounces yellow onions, chopped
1 pound shiitake or other wild mushrooms, stems removed, wiped and coarsely chopped
3 pounds Swiss chard, trimmed and washed, leaves cut from stems
1 ounce olive oil, as needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces Asiago cheese, thinly sliced
4 large eggs + 2 egg yolks
3 ounces pine nuts, lightly toasted


METHOD
1. Make the crust: Combine flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk together egg yolks, olive oil and about 2/3 cup of cold water and drizzle in a circle over the flour. Process briefly until mixture begins to come together, adding more water, a tablespoon at a time, until dough holds together when squeezed gently. Remove from bowl; form dough into two equal disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate while preparing the filling (about 30 minutes).
2. Make the filling: Cook pancetta in a large skillet over medium-low heat to render some fat, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, blot on paper towels, set aside. Add onions to the pan and cook, stirring over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms; raise heat to medium and cook, stirring another 2 minutes, until mushrooms have softened. Reduce heat to low, cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, remove stems from the chard, chop into small pieces and set aside. Coarsely chop leaves and set aside. Add stems to onions, adding more oil if needed. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in leaves, cook briefly and reduce heat to low; cover and cook until greens are wilted and tender, adding water as needed and stirring from time to time. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and set aside.
4. Remove pastry disks from refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured board into 16-inch circles. Fit pastry into two 9- x 3-inch springform pans, allowing the edges to drape over the sides. Lay the Asiago in the bottom of the pan.
5. Preheat oven to 375º F.
6. In a large bowl, whisk 4 eggs together. Add pancetta, cooked greens and pine nuts; mix thoroughly. Divide filling between pastry-lined pans. Bring sides of the pastry up and fold over the top toward the center; the center will be exposed. Beat egg yolks in a bowl and brush over the exposed pastry, being careful not to drip egg down the edges of the pan. Bake until pastry is a deep golden color, about 45 minutes.
7. Remove from oven, let rest for 5 minutes, then loosen sides of the pans and remove. Cool on a rack for another 10 minutes, then slide onto a serving plate.

NUTRITIONAL DATA (per 5-ounce serving): Calories: 340; Cholesterol: 75 mg; Sodium: 340 mg; Fat: 19 g; Dietary fiber: 2 g

SWISS CHARD SAAG PANEER
Yield: 24 (4.5-ounce) portions
Preparation time: 1 hour
Shelf-life: 3 days
Saag paneer is a favorite vegetable dish in Indian cuisine. Swiss chard is an appealing variation on the more familiar spinach, which is often used. Mild feta that is not overly salty is a good substitute for Indian curd cheese or paneer.

INGREDIENTS
6 pounds Swiss chard, trimmed, washed and shaken, but not dried
1½ ounces ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil
1½ teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound yellow onions, chopped
2 ounces garlic cloves
2 ounces fresh gingerroot
8 ounces buttermilk
14 ounces thick, Greek-style yogurt
8 ounces half-&-half
12 ounces mild feta cheese (not salty)*
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
*Editor’s note: New York State goat feta was used


METHOD
1. Remove stems from the chard and chop into small pieces; set aside. Slice leaves crosswise; set aside.
2. Heat ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garam masala, coriander, turmeric and cayenne and stir for 1 minute. Add chard stems, cook 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in the leaves in bunches, turning to coat them with butter; add the next batch once leaves wilt and turn dark green. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a blender, purée onion, garlic, ginger and buttermilk into a fine paste; stir into the chard. Stir in yogurt and half-&-half and simmer until mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cheese, season with salt and pepper, and taste to adjust the flavors.


NUTRITIONAL DATA (per 4.5-ounce serving): Calories: 130; Cholesterol: 20 mg; Sodium: 500 mg; Fat: 8 g; Dietary fiber: 2 g

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