Swiss chard pie

(Sheryl Julian/Globe Staff)
By Karoline Boehm Goodnick
May 20, 2009

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Serves 4

Swiss chard, championed for its serious vitamin content, is often linked with fall harvest festivals. Yet, May brings the season's first crop, with delicate leaves and subtle flavor. A member of the beet family, Swiss chard can be used as a substitute for almost any recipe that calls for spinach. In this pie, which begins with a store-bought frozen shell, bacon and Parmesan give the eggs richness. Since the custard doesn't contain cream, the texture of the finished tart is lighter than quiche. Swiss chard leaves need a thorough rinsing. In the pan, they wilt quickly but stems require longer cooking; separate stems from leaves and chop the stems finely to make them cook faster. As a brunch or light supper dish, the pie is pleasing. You'll feel virtuous for making it.

1 frozen pie shell (9-inches)
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated
3 strips bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Line the pie shell with foil, pressing it firmly into the edges of the shell. Fill with baking beans.

2. Bake the shell for 25 minutes, or until the base is pale golden. Set it aside to cool; lift out the foil and beans. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Let the shell cool.

3. Coarsely chop the Swiss chard leaves and set aside; finely chop the stems.

4. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the chard leaves, stirring constantly, until they wilt. Turn up the heat and cook, stirring, until the excess liquid in the pan evaporates. Transfer the leaves to a plate.

5. Wipe out the skillet. Render the bacon, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until it starts to brown. Remove the bacon from the pan; spoon off the bacon fat.

6. Add the oil to the pan. When it is hot, add the onion, garlic, and chard stems. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until stems and onions are tender. Stir in the chard leaves and bacon. Transfer to the pie shell. Set the shell on a rimmed baking sheet.

7. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and Parmesan. Pour into the shell. With a fork, gently press the chard mixture into the egg mixture.

8. Bake for 30 minutes or until the custard is just set in the center.