Since much of the work I do for The Fountain Avenue Kitchen takes place in the quiet of my kitchen or in front of the computer, I derive a certain joy from the comments that some readers share after they’ve cooked a recipe. Mary Lou from Kentucky found my blog a few years ago, and she graciously comments on every recipe she tries, sometimes providing a little backstory or asking a quick question. On occasion, Mary Lou even sends me a treasured recipe from her collection.
When I first read the following recipe, I was intrigued that Mary Lou baked her Swiss chard. Until otherwise inspired, I typically sautéed chard or added it to soup. The first time I prepared this recipe for my family, I knew it would become a regular on our dinner plates. The dish is unexpectedly delicious and, for those who tend to overlook Swiss chard, it’s a new reason to try.
Baking nutrient-rich Swiss chard mellows its flavor. I like to add a bell pepper for crispness and color. After a stint in the oven, the lightly browned feta topping becomes a crowning glory. A sprinkle of toasted walnuts before serving provides added crunch. With its array of veggies, nuts, and cheese, this dish is satisfying enough to be a light vegetarian meal.
In 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 outstanding.
Yields 4 servings.
- 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 the 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 onion 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. (I find this easiest to do with my clean hands.) Sprinkle the leaves and peppers over the stem mixture, and 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.
Click here for a blue cheese and mushroom spin that also incorporates a variety of greens.