I’ve found swiss chard to be one of the most forgiving greens to grow. Having said this, kale is also very tolerant. For me, the challenge with kale is that it does not have the ‘softness’ that swiss chard has thus is not so easily substituted for spinach…swiss chard on the other hand, is. Swiss chard is versatile, easy to grow, nutritious and abundant this time of year…
Granted, kale grows well into the cooler months and can easily be substituted for spinach or any dark leafy green, though there is something about swiss chard (at least for me) that I just love…perhaps it’s the red and green contrast or simply its abundance all spring, summer and fall…you can count on swiss chard to be there when spinach is not. I like kale but I love swiss chard…
I plant swiss chard in the early spring and enjoy it all summer and into the late fall…
During the hot days of summer I rely on it to become my ‘spinach.’ Spinach bolts when the weather turns hot – swiss chard does not…one row will give nutritious greens for months.
I simply cut the larger, outer leaves, and more grows back! Plant seeds, water, nurture, cut, grow, cut, grow, cut…grow…
Enjoy it in recipes which call for spinach or swiss chard. Simply cut or tear the leaves away from the thick stem, chop and then steam, saute, bake or add to soups.
My personal favorite is a swiss chard and ricotta tart. I use two different recipes. The one below is an open faced tart. Both require basically the same ingredients; the difference – one is open faced and one is not…
This recipe is the simplest of the two as it only requires a baking sheet and one puff pastry sheet…I have yet to make my own puff pastry, though I so want to…but, until then, a store bought one (without the high fructose corn syrup) will suffice…
So buy yourself a packet of puff pasty and get going!
This recipe also freezes well…plan ahead, bake ahead…dinner or a delicious appetizer is served…
Swiss Chard and Ricotta Tart
1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry. One sheet thawed. Save remaining sheet for another project…
1 large egg beaten with one teaspoon water (for egg wash)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
15 ounces ricotta cheese (one small container)
2 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin, if you have it)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh, if you have it)
12 ounces fresh swiss chard (frozen works well too – be sure to thaw and squeeze dry) – spinach can be substituted or a combination of the two.
What to do;
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unfold one pastry sheet, pinching seams together, if necessary…and roll out to cover baking sheet. Fold over edges, just slightly, to create an edge. Brush with egg wash (if desired).
2. Prick bottom, all over with fork. Sprinkle half of the Parmesan over the bottom; place tart on lower rack in preheated oven, for 5-8 minutes, or until cheese lightly browns. Let cool a few minutes.
3 .While baking, combine combine ricotta and next five ingredients.
4. Chop and saute swiss chard, in a large skillet, over medium heat. Cook in batches if necessary. Drain excess liquid.
5. Spoon about 2/3 ricotta mixture onto the baked pastry shell and then top with swiss chard. Dollop remaining ricotta mixture…
6. Finish with parmesan.
7. Top with fresh basil.
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set, in 350 degree oven.
9. Cut and serve.