Baked Swiss Chard with Peppers and Feta
I love it when a reader sends me a favorite recipe that she (or he!) thinks I will enjoy as much as she does. Frequently, I make these recipes, even if it takes me a few weeks or months to get around to them. In this case, I waited for local Swiss chard to become available. We actually grow chard in our garden, and there are a few stands at our local farmers market that offer the most beautiful Rainbow Chard.
When I received this recipe from faithful reader, Mary Lou, she mentioned that this was the first way she ever cooked chard and thought it was a terrific introduction to this slightly bitter leafy green. She has prepared it many times since, occasionally using goat cheese in lieu of the feta.
For my part, I typically sauté Swiss Chard and was curious as to how this green would taste when baked. I added a red pepper to complement the flavors and provide some extra heft to the dish. Walnuts are a nice touch at the end if you like a little crunch. The first time I ate this, I knew immediately it would become a regular on our dinner plates. It is unexpectedly delicious. One evening, I had enough leftover flank steak from the previous night’s dinner for three of the four of us, so I gave that to the guys and settled in with a big plateful of baked chard. With the extra veggies and feta, it made a wonderful vegetarian meal.
For those trying Swiss chard for the first time, baking it mellows the flavor and, as Mary Lou found out, delivers a delicious initiation to this nutrient-dense vegetable. For this recipe, I prefer to use a block of feta as opposed to the pre-crumbled variety. Crumbling it yourself directly over the greens allows you to control the size of the pieces (sometimes the crumbles have a lot of small, powdery pieces) and the flavor is typically better. For those living near Lancaster’s Central Market, Linden Dale Farms offers a goat’s milk feta that is out of this world!
Thank you for sharing your recipe, Mary Lou!!!
Baking greens may just be my new favorite way to enjoy them. The heat of the oven mellows the taste and the combination of flavors here creates a greens-based dish that is incredibly satisfying. I like to add the pepper in the second stage of baking to keep it slightly crisp.
- 1 bunch rainbow chard (about 8 ounces), rinsed and well drained
- 1 medium onion, chopped or sliced (separate the pieces)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use (plus a little extra for greasing the pan)
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and thickly sliced or chopped
- 1 slightly rounded 1/2 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled
- Freshly ground pepper to taste (I use about 1/4 teaspoon)
- Optional: chopped, toasted walnuts for garnish (about 1/4 cup)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with sides with olive oil.
- Separate the stems from the leaves of the Swiss chard and chop both, keeping piles separate. I like to chop the stems into bite-size pieces and the leaves into pieces 2-3 inches long and across.
- Toss the chard stems and sliced onions in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with pepper to taste, and spread onto the prepared baking sheet.(I completely omit salt in this recipe as the feta offers sufficient saltiness; if you prefer more, you may always salt at the end.)
- Bake in the preheated oven until the chard stems have softened and the onion is starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir around a little.
- In the bowl you used to toss the stems and onions, toss the chard leaves and the sliced pepper with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a few more grinds of the pepper mill. Sprinkle the leaves and peppers over the stem mixture, then scatter the feta cheese over top.
- Return to the oven, and bake until the leaves are beginning to crisp and the feta is starting to turn golden, about 20 minutes. You may also broil for a minute or so at the end to add a hint of crispiness to the leaves and a touch of golden brown to the feta. Just watch very closely so as not to burn.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the optional walnuts, if desired.