Swiss chard may not be especially Swiss, nor is it to everyone’s tastes. But it does go really well with cheese, and since I had some decidedly Swiss raclette left over – and it’s very much to mine – this seemed like a good idea.
Chard has a robust leafy, earthy flavour with a stalky edge some don’t like. This is, of course, more pronounced in the stems. The leaves will wilt down like a stronger, more lettuce-ish spinach. Although they’re tougher and a little waxier.
What that in mind, a variation on an old favourite springs to mind – the rocket and taleggio pie from the indispensable Silver Spoon.
- A big bunch of Swiss chard
- Optional: pancetta cubes, say 100g
- Raclette (about 150g)
- Sour cream (a small pot – 150ml or so)
- A little flat leaf parsley
- Breadcrumbs, a tablespoon or two
- Pastry (Shortcrust, about 300g)
First deal with the pastry – make it or buy it or whatever. If you make it, add a pinch or two of oregano. Roll it out and line an appropriate tin, probably a sturdy spring-form.
Wash and stem the chard, separating the thick of the stalk from the inner part of the leaf. A sort of triangular cut along the middle works well. They have very different cooking times, so doing this helps. Slice off the woody bottoms of the stalks, and slice them finely. Shred the leaves, and put both to one side.
Thinly slice an onion and some garlic. Cut the raclette into little cubes, and chop some parsley.
Fry the onion off slowly in some oil, adding the chard stalks once it’s started to soften. Keep frying until both are soft, but not really colouring. This probably means something like fifteen minutes. At the end, add the garlic and the pancetta if you’re using it. Let both just cook through, then remove the mixture and stick it in a bowl somewhere.
Bring up the heat in the pan and wilt down the chard leaves, much as you might spinach (or fried cabbage if you’re me). Once it’s soft and most of the water has been driven off, stop and leave it to cool enough to handle.
Put the eggs, cream, breadcrumbs, parsley, and about a third of the cheese into a bowl and blend them with an electric blender. Get it smooth and ever so slightly frothy. Once they’re cool, add the chard leaves, and blitz it all up so it’s chopped through quite finely, but not a completely homogenized slop. Mix in the remaining ingredients, pour it into the pastry, and bake on about 200c for somewhere in the region of thirty minutes, perhaps forty if it’s being ticklish about setting.
The deep leafy tang of the chard is great with the cheese, and the little bit of raclette that’s puréed through enriches the whole thing, stopping the chard feeling like too much. In turn, the slight sourness of the cream stops the cheese running away with it. The dish is rich, but not too rich; earthy but not too salady or chlorophyll-ish, and with a bit of bite.
Let’s be honest, it doesn’t need the bacon, but you are supremely unlikely to regret adding it.
I served this with sauerkraut – for the sharpness, and not at all because I’m obsessed.