No vegetable I grow is as dependable as chard. This is best proven by the fact that there is at least one meal featuring chard in any of my ‘A week of eating from the garden’ post, whether they were written in February or July. Chard is easy to grow, slow to bolt, tolerant of low temperatures and you can pick leaves from the same plants for months. It is one of the prettiest vegetables, too, being available in a many colours, from bright yellow to deep burgundy.
My only problem with chard is that even though you can use both the leaves and the stems in the kitchen, most recipes (and all previously featured on my blog) only use the leaves. I usually safe the stems, keep them in the fridge for a few days trying to figure out how to use them, only to throw them on the compost heap in the end. And throwing away something edible (even on the compost heap) weighs on my conscience.
No surprise then that I am stoked about this new recipe in my arsenal: it uses both the leaves AND the stems! Obviously, it is tasty, too. The chard stems and leaves are joined by a hefty bunch of herbs, stirred into ricotta custard and enveloped in filo pastry, which, brushed generously with melted butter, bakes into golden perfection. I made it three times in a month on different occasions, one of them a dinner with my in-laws. Even though the recipe makes a pretty big pie, there were no left-overs then. When it’s just the four of us, I’m usually lucky enough to have a slice or two for my lunch the next day. If Esther does not remember the pie and take it to school for her lunch, that is.
p.s. If you have a good recipe using the stems, I am still interested!
Chard and herb filo pie
2 cloves of garlic
a big bunch of chard
2 tbsp olive oil
Bunch of parsley, leaves removed from the stems and roughly chopped
Mint, about 2 sprigs, leaves removed and chopped
250 g (1 cup) ricotta
150 g (5 ounces) feta
Filo dough, 12 large rectangular sheets
100g (one stick) butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Halve the onion and slice it thinly, chop the garlic finely. Strip the chard leaves off the stems. Stack the leaves and cut them in wide ribbons. Slice the stems thinly.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté gently until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chard stems and sauté for another 5 – 6 minutes. Next add the chard leaves and stir until they wilt, another 3 minutes or so. Add the chopped herbs, stir and take the pan off the heat. Let the greens cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta and eggs. Add the greens and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the filo under a damp towel to prevent it from drying out, and work quickly. (If exposed to air, the filo will become dry and brittle pretty quickly.)
Line a baking sheet* with parchment and place the first sheet of filo on the baking sheet. Brush lightly with butter, using a pastry brush. Repeat until you have used half the filo sheets. Spread the filling over the filo and crumble the feta on top. Place a layer of phyllo over the filling and butter lightly. Repeat until you have used all the filo. Fold the edges inwards and brush the top with more butter. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
*I used my smallest baking sheet, which measures 39 x 26 cm. This worked well for the size of my filo sheets. If your baking sheet is bigger than the filo rectangles you are using, leave an edge free when spreading the filling and fold it over the top in the end to seal the filling inside. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a nice salad.