Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Loving the Leafy Greens

 I love swiss chard. I LOVE SWISS  CHARD.  Can I make that any more clear? Odd thing, though, I think my love for the leafy greens stems from my absolute adoration for this pie. Yeah. So, when grocery-shopping last week, I spotted the vegetable on sale and bought myself a beautiful bouquet. Then, of course, I had to bake a pie.
It really is such a simple pie to make, but feels daunting at times because each ingredient needs to be prepared. The swiss chard needs to be blanched. The raisins need to be soaked to plump them. The nuts need to be toasted. The dough has to be rolled out. Once all that is done, it's really an easy recipe to put together. A pie of cake, right?
 Ok, reality check - I can get everything prepped and the pie in the oven in 30 minutes. So really, not that bad.
 And the beauty of this pie? Yes, it is filled to the brim with swiss chard, but it is held together with an sweetened eggy mixture flavored with orange zest. Combine that with the raisins and pine nuts and you get this savoury-sweetness than lends itself well to dinner, lunch, and breakfast. What? Yes, even breakfast. 
 Sure, you can serve a slice, still warm from the oven, with a delicious strawberry-arugula salad, but just think of how delicious it could be with a dusting of powdered sugar and your morning coffee! So good!

 So my fridge is a little emptier, my oven a little more over-worked, and a fresh swiss chard pie cools on the counter, ready for dinner. I tossed up a nice fresh spring salad, cut a few slices and we moved out to the deck. The weather is so fickle lately, with rain and cool winds more prevalent this spring, we take advantage of any moment the sun shines. It was a beautiful evening for a meal outside, a tête-à-tête al fresco. 

Swiss Chard, Raisin and Pine Nut Tart

1/2 cup raisins
2 lbs. swiss chard, chopped
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts(almonds work great as an inexpensive alternative)
One recipe butter pastry dough (see below)

Bring raisins to a boil in 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Let stand, covered, for 30 minutes; drain. Blanch swiss chard in a large pot of boiling water 2 minutes. Drain, cool and squeeze out excess water. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, milk, sugar and orange zest. Stir in raisins, swiss chard and pine nuts.
Roll out half of dough on a lightly floured surface into a large enough circle to fit  in a 9" quiche pan. Place dough in pan but  do not trim edges.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Roll out second half of dough large enough to fit top of pie. Spread swiss chard mixture evenly into shell, then top with second piece of dough. Using water to dampen edges, seal crust and flute edges. Cut 3 steam vents in top crust.
Bake until top is golden, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Butter Crust Pastry

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter
6-7 tbsp. cold water

Mix together flour, salt and butter, using fingers or a pastry cutter, until mixture resembles a fine crumb.Add cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Knead gently once or twice, then use in desired recipe. Makes 1 2-crust pie or tart.

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