Sunday, September 26, 2010
Swiss chard, how I love you!
One of the delights of my cooking life is greens. I am addicted to lovely, bitter broccoli rabe, kale in any of it's forms, garlicy wilted spinach, smokey, yummy collards and finally, the rainbow of colors that is Swiss chard. Years ago, long before I moved to Michigan, my mother was operated on and during her recovery period, she was craving Swiss chard. So I made it in as many ways as I could. I make chard soup, wilted chard and I steamed it like a pro. Then I happened to be going through my cook books and I found this recipe for Swiss chard strudel. I know it sounds odd, a dish that usually includes apples and lots of butter, but believe me this one is anything but sweet. The original recipe called for Jarlbserg cheese and Parmesean, and for a while I did make it that way, but I made it today with VanGogh cheese (think a cross between really sharp cheddar and an aged gouda) and a beautiful smoked blue cheese we happened upon at Hirts this morning. If anyone reading this is ever in Eastern Market in Detroit, get yourselves to JR Hirts. It's a wonderland of cheeses and meats and all kinds of yummy goodies. They even have vegetarian cheese!
On to the most delish Swiss chard recipe I know!
Swiss Chard Strudel
1 large bunch of Swiss chard, about 15 oz (washed well, drained, stems separated and chopped, leaves roughly chopped)
2 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves sliced or chopped roughly
1 small onion chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried basil (optional)
4 1/2 tbsp good breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded flavorful cheese (your choice)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or another flavorful dry cheese)
1/2 stick good butter, melted and cooled
6 sheets phyllo dough (or good puff pastry)
In a large saute pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and add the garlic and onion. Saute until the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant, about 4 minutes at medium heat. Stir while softening, don't allow either to brown or burn. Add in the chard stems and saute until they are also soft, about 6 more min at medium heat. To speed up the process you can cover the pan and walk away for a few minutes. When everything is cooked, add in the chard leaves and stir well, making sure they are coated by the oil, add the dried basil. The leaves will wilt but won't cook down like a spinach, so cook them, stirring occasionally another 6 - 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. After cooling a few minutes, drain some of the liquid off the chard, put the mixture in a large bowl, add in 1 tablespoon of the bread crumbs, the cheeses and salt and pepper to taste, mix well and set aside. (*Note, the cheeses tend to be salty, so go very easy on the salt, taste after you add all the cheese before you add salt.)
While the chard mixture cools, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then prepare a large baking sheet. Mix the remaining olive oil into the cooled butter and with a brush, lightly butter the baking sheet and place one of the phyllo sheets on it. Butter the sheet all over and sprinkle it with breadcrumbs. Place the next sheet of phyllo over this one, and repeat the butter and crumb process with the remaining 5 sheets. You need to work fairly quickly here, since the phyllo will dry out quickly. Don't worry if there are tears in the sheets, all the layers will cover most holes and you will never even notice it after baking.
Spread the cooled chard mixture onto the phyllo sheets, spread it all over the sheet, leaving 1/2 in margin all the way around the sheet. When you have spread it evenly, fold over the margin onto the chard. Starting at the short end of the pastry, roll the phyllo over the filling, making a streudel shaped roll. Lay flat on the baking sheet with the seam side down. Use any remaining oil/butter to paint the outside of the struesel, and cut some shallow slits into the top of the struesel, to allow any steam to escape.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes, you will know it's done when it is golden brown on the outside. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so, cut and serve. You can serve this at room temperature, or hot.