My friend Tereza is the best kind of visistor you can get. Every summer we try to spend a few days together, the last few years usually at my sister’s house: three moms and six kids of all ages. Tereza arrives with her car loaded with groceries and veggies from her garden and within an hour she’s usually in the kitchen cooking us all a dinner. In the following days, we take turns in the kitchen, both of us enjoying cooking for an appreciative audience as well as loving the rare dinner cooked by somebody else.
This strudel is something she cooked for us last year with chard from her backyard. The recipe, just like most of her cooking, is unfussy and good. Very few ingredients, a simple way to prepare them and yet the dish is beautiful and the taste satisfyingly complex, the sweet onions and irony chard contrasting with the sharp cheese, everything enrobed in golden pastry.
About the only change I made was making a faux braid on top, instead of just folding the outer thirds over the filling. It does look a little prettier and is not difficult since you’re not even really braiding anything, but if you don’t want to bother, the taste will be no less good if you just fold the dough over.
Last week, I brought some chard from our Dutch garden over to my parents’ summer house in the Czech Republic and “played Tereza” by cooking for everybody. My mom, too, is immensely appreciative of a good meal prepared by somebody else 🙂
Savory strudel with chard and blue cheese
Note about the cheese: since we’re in the Czech Republic, I used the widely available “Niva” but just about any blue cheese you like will work.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
a generous bunch of chard
100 g (a little over 3 ounces) blue cheese
450 g (1 pound) puff pastry made with butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
Wash the chard and remove the thick stalks. Stack the leaves and cut into thick ribbons. In a large pot, heat the oil and add the chopped onion together with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the chard leaves, season with salt and pepper and cover the pot. You want the chard to be tender but definitely not overcooked. When the chard is done, let it drain in a colander, pressing out as much water as possible.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (430 F).
On a well floured surface, roll out the puff pastry into a 35 cm (14 inch) square. Move the square to a sheet of parchment (it would be difficult to do this later). Cut the outer thirds of the square at an angle into ribbons about 1 – 1,5 cm (½ inch) wide, trying not to cut through the parchment. Arrange the chard on the middle third of the dough and crumble the blue cheese on top. Fold the ribbons over the middle, alternating between the left and right sides to create a faux braid. Move the parchment with the strudel to a baking sheet and brush the surface with the egg. Bake until the top is golden, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Let cool a bit before slicing, but serve preferably still warm.
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