Photo by John Ivanko
Put your late-fall Swiss chard in a quiche for a great meal or snack any time of the day.
After a near-tropical burst of warm weather here in Wisconsin lately, the reality of the real-deal hard frosts knocks at our farm door. Or more specifically, the fall greens are on their last hurrah.
How ironic (and a bit maddening) that now, at the end of the fourth quarter of the garden game, our greens look their best. Gone are the bug pressures and dryness of summer, and those plants, particularly our Swiss chard, stands tall, green and triumphant.
With the looming hard frosts, we harvested the bulk of our chard this week and froze it for the winter. Chard freezes superbly: Wash and chop leaves, and blanch for about three minutes. Cool and squeeze out as much water as possible and back into freezer containers or plastic bags. Use frozen chard as you wouldÂ spinach and other greens.
But before we freeze away all the chard, we celebrate a few more rounds of the fresh stuff with Swiss Chard Quiche, a pastry shell filled with a savory custard cooked up with eggs, cream, cheese, seasonings and, of course, those leafy greens high in vitamins A, E, and C and minerals, such as iron and calcium.
We drew inspiration for this Swiss Chard Quiche from our farmer friend Dela Ends ofÂ Scotch Hill Farm when she brought her familyâ€™s version to a local women in sustainable agriculture potluck last winter. Her recipe appears in the From Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook, published by the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition.
A few tips:
- Make the pastry crust the night before and chill. This will make it easier to roll out and baking a cold crust creates steam, which helps keep the crust flaky.
- If your chard leaves are on the larger side, like ours, and have tougher stems, be sure to remove the stems before adding the greens to keep the quiche filling tender.
- While we serve this frequently in the fall for breakfast at our farm-stay bed and breakfast, Inn Serendipity, this quiche travels well and leftovers make a great portable lunch snack.
Recipe: Swiss Chard Quiche
Yield: 6 servings
- 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust (see recipe below)
- 2 T. butter
- 1 medium leek, cleaned and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium bunch Swiss chard (about 1 pound), chopped
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
- 4 eggs
- 2 cup cream
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 T. freshÂ dill (or 1 tsp. dried)
In a large skillet over low heat, melt butter. Add the leek and garlic and cook until leeks are soft and tender. Be sure to cook slowly over a low heat or otherwise leeks can burn and turn brown.
Add chopped greens, and stir until wilted. Spread chard mixture on the bottom of the pie shell. Sprinkle cheeses over chard mixture.
Beat eggs in a small bowl. Add cream and salt. Pour egg mixture over top of quiche. Sprinkle with dill.
Bake at 375 degrees F for about 45 minutes or until a firm and golden brown.
Recipe: Pie Crust
Yield: 1 9-inch crust
- 1Â½ cup flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 4 to 5 T. cold water
Mix together flour and salt in a large bowl.
Cut in butter with pastry blender or two butter knives until pieces are size of small peas. To make pastry extra tender and flaky, divide butter in half. Cut in first half until mixture looks like corn meal. Then cut in remaining half until like small peas.
Sprinkle one tablespoon of water over part of flour-butter mixture. Gently toss with fork; push to one side of bowl. Sprinkle next tablespoon of water over dry part; mix lightly. Continue adding water and mixing gently until the dough is moistened.
Gather up with fingers; form into a ball. If you have the time, refrigerate the crust overnight for an extra-flaky crust.
On lightly floured surface, flatten ball slightly and roll to 1/8 inch thick. If edges split, pinch together. Always roll spoke-fashion, going from center to edge of dough. Use light strokes.
Press into lightly oiled pie pan, and add quiche ingredients (no need to pre-bake).