Friday, March 30, 2012

Swiss Chard Pie

Our dinner plans changed drastically March 14th, once National Pi Day was brought to my attention (thanks Christie!). I knew we must eat something round and pie shaped. Our meals of late have been governed by whatever may have shown up in the CSA box that week, so Swiss chard pie it was.

I grew up with Viccolo's cornmeal pizza crusts in SF, so when I discovered that our little ol' HEB had them in their freezer section I did a happy dance and a half (right there in the store...I really have no shame). I knew our National Pi Day would be celebrated with Viccolo's. This recipe is what resulted. The crusts come 2 per package, so this is really the second time I've made this since Pi Day. Too good not to post, lest I forget my recipe!

Update: I've since made this again subbing organic beet greens and the diced stems and it was as good if not better.  I also added a touch of ground cayenne to the bechamel sauce.  Perfect!

Swiss Chard Pie:

1 large bunch of organic Swiss chard; de-stemmed and chopped
1 large clove garlic; minced
~1/3 cup organic veggie broth

2 Tbs organic unsalted butter
2 Tbs organic flour (any flour will work, I like to use whole grain spelt flour, or brown rice flour)
1 1/4 cup organic unsweetened soymilk, milk, or other unsweetened milk sub.
~1/3 (grate a little extra for the top of the pie) cup grated aged Gruyère cheese
dash of garlic powder
fresh grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

1 frozen Viccolo's cornmeal crust

Preheat oven to 425.
Heat a little bit of olive oil in a skillet over med. high heat.
Saute garlic til golden, then add Swiss chard and toss to wilt.
Add veggie broth, cover, turn down heat to low, and braise for about 5-7 minutes, or until tender.
Drain in a colander, squeezing out as much liquid as you can once it's cool enough to handle. Set aside.

For the bechamel, heat soymilk in microwave until hot, taking care not to scald it...about 1-2 minutes.
Heat butter in a saucepan until foamy, then add flour and whisk for 2 minutes cooking over med. low heat.
While whisking, add the heated soymilk (or other milk) to the butter and flour roux. Continue cooking over medium low heat for ~3-4 minutes, until it thickens nicely. Remove from heat and stir in a little cheese, stirring until melted. Season with fresh grated nutmeg, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.

Stir drained greens into bechamel.
Spread greens mix over one Viccolo's pizza crust, sprinkle a small amount of Gruyère over across the top, then bake for about 12-13 minutes in the center of the oven.
Set the broiler to high, move the pizza to the uppermost rack, then broil til bubbly and just golden. Keep a close eye on it when the pie is under the broiler, this will go fast.

Serves 2 paired with a nice mixed greens salad. Our salad was a mix of organic field greens, oranges, avocado, a few toasted pepitas and a chopped dried fig. So good and played really well with the pie. :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Shaved Asparagus and Orange Salad with Sesame

My pop got me a scary mandoline slicer for my birthday this year (he also got one for my step-monster and claims it slices up spuds slicker 'n deer guts...colorful). I thought this salad, albeit a pain in the butt to make, might bear revisiting using the mando instead of the peeler I used the first time. I've only made this once before...last spring when asparagus was plentiful. I wasn't fool enough to make it again. Until the other night. I did start out trying to slice the spears with the mandoline, but ended up using the peeler for most of them. So, bearing in mind you'll probably be cursing like a sailor when peeling your aspergeese, put the kids out of earshot and give it a go! :-)

Shaved Asparagus and Orange Salad with Sesame:
(serves 2)

1 bunch of thick asparagus
~1/4-1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1 large navel orange (+another ~1/2 for juice)
3 Tbs fresh orange juice
1 1/2 Tbs rice wine, or champagne vinegar (I went champagne before I decided on the Asian twist)
a small squeeze of agave nectar
~1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil (honestly don't know how much I added)
fresh cracked black pepper, sea salt to taste
a little canola oil to taste…I just add this to the dressing as I stir, tasting till I'm happy with it
Gomasio, or toasted sesame seeds (I used seaweed Gomasio by Eden)

Shave asparagus after trimming off tough ends. Place asparagus spear on the edge of a cutting board and holding from the head and using a sharp peeler, peel from flower to root end until you've gotten as many slices as you're gonna get.
Now evaluate if you'd like to continue with this madness.
The results will be delicious if you choose to sally forth, but your call.
If you're a loon and now have a pile of shaved asparagus in front of you, put it in a medium sized bowl.Mix dressing ingredients (orange zest through canola oil) together and set aside.

Using a knife, cut off the polar ends of the navel orange. Stand the orange on one end and cut from the top down until you've removed all the peel and bitter white pith.
Bisect the orange, then cut into slices. Now cut those slices in half. Add to the asparagus.
If you happen to find yourself with an organic orange with really fibrous membranes like I did, just cut the segments so that you have supremes and forgo eating the membranes...

Pour dressing over asparagus and orange combo, stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
Serve topped with toasted sesame seeds, or Gomasio.

We ate our salad as a side to one of our favorite mains, Thai Tilapia over black rice.