I have to confess that Chard . . . Swiss Chard, or Silver Beet as it is also called, is one of my favourite vegetables. I do so love greens. My mother used to cook us beet greens . . . with a bit of butter, vinegar, salt and pepper . . . they were so delicious.
The stems of chard are gorgeous simply stir fried with a bit of butter and then tossed with some lemon juice, salt and pepper. You can treat the leaves much in the same way as you would spinach and use many of the same flavourings as well . . . basil, garlic, cheese . . .
Chard and cheese are just beautiful together . . . with the richness of cheese and the earthy mineral flavour of the chard . . . they are a fabulous combination.
Today I decided to bake us a scrummy Chard and Cheese Tart, making the most of that beautiful marriage of flavours . . .
I used both a sharp farmhouse cheddar and some Parmesan, which together proved to be just perfect with the chard, and then I added a double whammy by infusing the crisp pastry with a touch more cheddar, some thyme leaves and a good grinding of coarse black pepper.
Oh my but this was lovely . . . the crust so buttery and crisp . . . with just a slight hint of herb and cheese . . .
The filling all earthy and rich . . . velvety, and cheesy too. I think I'll have the leftovers for lunch. This was good . . . plain and simple.
*A Scrummy Tart of Chard and Cheese*
Serves 6 or more
Chard and cheese are such a beautiful combination, and marry beautifully in this savoury tart with it's crisp cheesy crust and luxuriously rich filling.
For the Pastry:
250g of plain flour (scant 1 1/2 cups)
100g of butter, cold and cut into small dice (6 TBS)
35g of sharp farmhouse cheddar cheese (a generous 1/3 cup)
a tsp of thyme leaves
coarse black pepper
1 large free range egg, beaten
For the filling:
270g of red or rainbow chard (1 pound)
4 thin spring onions
2 large free range eggs
300ml of double cream (1/2 pint, or slightly less than 1 1/4 cup)
50g of sharp cheddar, grated (1/2 cup, 2 ounces)
40g of Pecorino, Spenwood or Parmesan grated (about 1/3 cup)
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour, working quickly, with your fingertips. Rub until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the grated cheddar along with the thyme, a pinch of coarse black pepper and the beaten egg. Bring together to form a soft ball, adding a bit of milk if necessary.
Dust the work surface lightly with flour. Roll the pastry out in a rectangle large enough to fill a shallow jelly roll pan, about 12 by 15 inches. If you pan isn't nonstick, butter it first. Press the pastry carefully into the pan, making sure that you get it well into the corners. Trim the edges and then place in the refrigerator to chill for a good half an hour. (I used the trimmings to add a bit of thickness along the edges of the pastry just because I like the edges to be a bit thicker. Just brush with a bit of milk and stick them on.
While the pastry is chilling you can cook your chard. I steamed mine over boiling water until it was soft and tender. I then drained it very well and squeezed as much water out of it as I could with my hands. Roughly chop. Place into a bowl. Trim and thinly slice the spring onions. Toss in with the chard and season it with a touch of salt and black pepper. Set aside.
Preheat your oven 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.
Take your pastry from the refrigerator. Lay a piece of foil or greaseproof paper in the pastry case and weigh down with some baking beans. Bake in the heated oven for 15 minutes until the pastry is firm. Remove the foil and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes until dry to the touch.
Remove from the oven and scatter the chopped chard and onion mixture over the crust Beat together the eggs and cream. Scatter the cheeses over top of the chard in the pastry case and pour the egg and cream mixture over top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry is nicely crisped and the filling is set. Serve warm or at room temperature.