Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cooking with Chard

I'll admit it--I am still kind of afraid of the green things that lurk on my plate.  I spent my childhood as a picky eater, and when I look back on it I have to wonder if I ever ate any vegetables. If french fries count, then I know I was eating plenty of potatoes. When I first became a vegetarian I didn't think very much about adding more vegetables to my diet. I just cut out the meat without making any healthier adjustments. Now that I have been a vegetarian for 5 years, learned about proper nutrition, and spent my time at university learning about how to grow real, whole, nutritious foods, I eat differently. And more healthfully. I try to eat at least two fruits a day. Right now that's at least one orange (you'll see why in tomorrow's post), and a pear, apple, banana... something good and whole. It takes a little more work to eat enough veggies. Potatoes are still kind of a staple, but I'm pretty good about adding in onions, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, peas, spinach, and corn. But the more the diversity, the better! Which leads me to the farmers market chard you learned about yesterday.

There are tons of recipes out there that call for cooking your chard on the stove in a little bit of oil, perhaps with some lemon juice or garlic. Well, that wasn't what I was looking for. I wanted a whole meal with a bit more substance than a plate of stewed chard could provide me. I wanted something where chard was an ingredient, not the focal point. It was with the New York Times that I found my direction for the night's cooking adventures. I followed the basic recipe for Onion Pizza With Ricotta and Chard, with just a twist or two.

I started by slicing my onion and caramelizing it on the stove.
While the onion caramelized I ribbed and chopped up four leaves of chard, then steamed it on the stove.
The chard steamed until tender, then I rinsed it under cold water and dried it off to keep excess moisture out of the cheese mixture. The NYT recipe calls for ricotta cheese, which I did not feel like running to the grocery store for. Instead, I used cottage cheese. I mashed the curd up a little bit, and added some milk to make it closer to the spreadable consistency that ricotta would provide. I also grated in a little bit of parmesan and mozzarella cheese. When I was ready to make up my pizza I mixed the chard in with the cheese, and spread it on my crust of choice. This was another improvisation: no whole wheat flour around to make dough, not really the energy to make dough if I did have the stuff. So I used a pita.
I then covered, and I mean absolutely covered, the cheese chard mix with caramelized onions. Then the whole thing went into the oven at 425, straight on the rack. It only needed to bake until the cheese was melted and the onions a little more golden and crispy.
It. was. amazing. I love caramelized onions, and they were definitely the focal point here. They did such a good job dominating the flavor of my little pita pizza that I could probably add more chard, and probably will in the future.

My basic amounts, which made two little pita pizzas, about 5'' each, were as follows:
2 pitas
1 medium onion, sliced and caramelized
1-2 cloves garlic, added during the last half of onion caramelizing
4 chard leaves, stemmed, chopped, steamed, and excess water wrung out.
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1 Tbl milk
3 Tbl parmesan cheese
2 Tbl mozzarella cheese


  1. I wish I had been at your place! This looks sooooooo good! I never have the patience to properly carmelize onions though..

    ~ Katie

  2. You did well!! I'm proud of you.