Few vegetables earn their keep in the garden the way chard does. Not only can you pick the leaves for months and if the winter is mild well into the next year, the plants are very beautiful too. Because of its colourful stems and bright green leaves, chard is one the best plants for anyone attempting to create a garden that is beautiful as well as edible.
Last year I made good use of chard’s decorative qualities in my experimental potager (I wrote about this little garden in Permaculture magazine – Summer 2011), combining it with kale, leeks, edible flowers and red perilla.
In the Netherlands, chard is often treated as spinach’s less remarkable sister. But it is a vegetable in its own right and should be approached as such, and not as a substitute for spinach.
I love the leaves simply sautéed with a little garlic, but prepared like this, my kids won’t touch them. However, if I mix chard with ricotta and Parmesan cheese and wrap it in buttery puff pastry, they will devour it.
Turnovers with ricotta and chard filling
1 bunch of chard, stems removed (use them for a gratin or throw them in a soup)
1 tub of ricotta (250 g)
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
ready-made puff pastry ( I buy a package containing 10 squares of 10 x 10 cm)
large handful of finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Allow frozen puff pastry to thaw while you make the filling, about 10 minutes. Wash the chard and steam it in a large pan with a little water at the bottom. Let the chard drain in a colander and press as much water as possible out using a wooden spoon. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with the eggs, rosemary and the grated cheese. Add the roughly chopped chard and season with salt.
If your pastry is not already in squares, roll it out and cut into 10 x 10 cm squares. Lightly brush the edges of each square with the beaten egg. Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling in the centre of each square. Fold pastry over diagonally, and seal the edges with your fingers. Place the turnovers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly brush the tops with egg and sprinkle with the sesame seed.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the pastry has puffed and is a golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with a mixed salad.