Monday, April 26, 2010

Swiss Chard Tart: Pasticcio di Bietole al Forno


Thank you, Mario Batali, for helping me to get my toddler to eat Swiss chard. Actually it wasn’t just my toddler, it was me too. Ordinarily I’m ok with greens—I don’t cook them as often as I would like or should, but we get on well enough. With this baby in my belly, however, I have been kind of down on them. I’m sort of forcing myself to eat spinach salads a few times a week (weird, with Sawyer that’s ALL I wanted to eat), but when our beautiful box of organic produce arrived on Thursday and I saw the lush green leaves and tell-tale bright red stems of Swiss chard, I had a bit of a pang in my heart, something along the lines of, “I love you, but what am I going to DO with you??” This tart was the perfect way to eat my greens and love them too. My only complaint, if it can be called that, is that the tart is very thin (there are only 3 eggs after all) and could be bulked up considerably if it’s meant to be a main course. So if I were making it again I would double the eggs and chard, but leave everything else the same. Also notice that I added a good amount of roasted red pepper strips, since I’m on a quest to see how they’ll transform my cooking if I have them on hand. Huge thumbs up on the pepper strip addition.

2 pounds Swiss chard, washed and spun dry

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/4 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/8 cup

1/2 C roasted red pepper strips, if you so desire

3 large eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 cup bread crumbs

Bring 8 quarts water to a rolling boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Roughly chop the Swiss chard, discarding the rough stems. Add the Swiss chard to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.


Drain thoroughly and set aside.

In a 12-inch saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over a medium flame until hot but not smoking. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and the parsley. Let cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the red peppers in the last few minutes, if you’re using them. Remove from the heat and let cool.


Meanwhile, break the eggs into a small bowl. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Add 3 tablespoons of Parmigiano and, using a whisk, mix until the ingredients are well-blended. Add the egg mixture to the cooled Swiss chard and toss to combine.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using the remaining olive oil to lightly grease a shallow 9-inch round or oval baking dish. Dust the bottom of the baking dish with 1/2 cup bread crumbs.


Carefully place the Swiss chard and egg mixture into the pan.


Dust with the remaining Parmigiano and then the remaining bread crumbs. Here’s how it looked before going into the oven:


The recipe said to bake it for an hour, but my instincts told me that was way too long (in Colorado, at least), so I did 45 minutes and I think it could have used 5 minutes less. Basically you want the crumbs to be golden and the egg to be set. It should look something like this:


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