Every time I step into my backyard, I am amazed by how much Swiss chard my little garden is capable of producing. For going on 2 months, I’ve been eating chard a few times a week either with pasta or in garlicky sautés with potatoes or beans. And while I’m still not sick of it, I have started looking for a few new ways to prepare it.
This past weekend, I looked to one of my forever-favorite cookbooks for inspiration, Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking and found a recipe for tegliata di biete, a Swiss chard torta with pine nuts and raisins. Now this is the kind of recipe you might skip over if you were simply flipping through the book and didn’t happen to be sitting on a mountain of chard, but it’s exactly the sort of recipe I love to stumble upon. There’s nothing especially flashy about, but it’s a perfect example of how with effort and care, a few simple ingredients can be transformed into something entirely new, nuanced and intriguing.
The torta does require more of a time commitment than most things I’ve been cooking this summer, but when I took my first forkful, I was happy I’d turned myself over to the kitchen for that hour.
First, you’ll blanch chard leaves, then squeeze them dry, and give them a chop. Now cook diced onion in a good amount of olive oil and combine with the greens.
Allow the mixture to cool, then stir in a handful of golden raisins, pine nuts, a couple of beaten eggs, and plenty of Parmigiano. Coat a springform pan with olive oil and breadcrumbs, spread the chard on top, sprinkle with more breadcrumbs, and bake.
The torta bakes for about 40 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden and crisp and the filling has set. It is at its best served slightly warm, preferably as a late lunch with a glass of white wine and on your patio, in viewing distance of your fine crop of chard–at least that’s how I enjoyed mine!
- ⅓ c. Golden Raisins
- 3 big bunches Swiss Chard, tough stems removed
- ¼ c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus a bit more for the pan
- ½ large Onion, finely diced
- ¼ c. Pine Nuts
- 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- 2 Eggs, lightly beaten
- freshly grated Nutmeg
- ⅔ c. Bread Crumbs
- Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with warm water. Set aside and allow to plump while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the chard and cook until tender, 5-10 minutes. Drain, allow to cool enough to handle, and then squeeze as much water from the leaves as possible. Chop the chard into fine pieces and set aside.
- Pour ¼ olive oil into a large, wide sauté pan. Add the onion and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is golden, about 15 minutes. Season with a few pinches of salt. Add the chopped chard; increase the heat to high and sauté for a few minutes to unite the flavors. Transfer to a medium bowl and allow to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Smear the inside of a springform pan with a bit of olive oil. Add half of the breadcrumbs and shake the pan around to evenly cover the bottom and sides.
- Drain the raisins and squeeze them dry. Add them to the cooled chard mixture along with the pine nuts, cheese, and eggs. Season with a touch of freshly grated nutmeg, few twists of black, and salt to taste.
- Spread the chard mixture in the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the remaining breadcrumbs. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Bake until the top is nicely browned and the filling is set, about 40 minutes. Allow the torte to cool briefly, then remove the springform and slide onto a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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