SWISS CHARD & MUSHROOM FRITTATA

I found myself with way too much chard and way too many potatoes in my fridge this week. A high class problem for sure, but I can’t bear to throw food away and since the chard was on the point of wilting, I decided the best way to use all this beautiful organic, seasonal food up, was to create a hearty Winter Frittata.

This is peasant food at its best. I love budget-friendly recipes and this is one of them. Perfect for a family dinner with a warm, crusty baguette and perhaps a bowl of tomato soup – ooh, I’m getting hungry.

I don’t know why I don’t make these more often, as a good Frittata is heavenly. The chard works beautifully with the earthy brown mushrooms and caramelized onions and potatoes. I love to eat it at room temperature with some peppery Arugula. It also keeps really well in an airtight container for up to 2 days in your fridge.

 

2 cups potatoes, chopped into large cubes ( I used small red potatoes and so kept their skins on.)

1 large yellow onion

2tbsp olive oil

1 bunch Swiss Chard, leaves stripped off stalks

1 cup brown mushrooms, sliced

8 eggs

1tsp sea salt

1/2tsp pepper

Serves 4

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F

Add the potatoes to salted, boiling water and boil for ten minutes until just tender. Drain and set aside.

Slice you onion thinly.

Steam your chard, until wilted. When it’s cool, squeeze out any excess water with paper towels and then roughly chop.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the potatoes and the onion. Fry on a very low heat for about 1/2 hour, making sure you turn the veggies over every now and again.

You want them to caramelize, so they should slowly and gently brown.

Add the mushrooms.

Beat up the eggs and add the seasoning.

Add the eggs to the pan and finally the chard. Shake the pan, to make sure that the egg gets evenly distributed.

Fry on a low heat for about 10 minutes.

Place the skillet in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the Frittata is browned on top.

Remove from heat and allow it to cool int he skillet. Gently edge the sides away from the pan with a spatula before lifting the Frittata out onto a serving platter. Serve with arugula or salad greens dressed with a citrusy dressing or you could even have a little dollop of garlicky aioli on the side.

WARM QUINOA SALAD

Ooooh – you’re in for such a treat with this superb winter salad. Last week I was lucky enough to eat at Fig restaurant, which is located at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica. I was very excited as I’d heard chef, Ray Garcia, doesn’t just pay lip service to “Sustainable” cuisine, but he actually lives and breathes it. You’ll find him wondering around the local farmer’s markets, purchasing only what is fresh and seasonal to cook up into some of the most exquisite dishes I’ve tasted in years.

I was given a little bag of red quinoa and a recipe on leaving the restaurant and decided to give it a go this weekend. The result was utterly delish – and here it is. I have taken a few liberties and customized it according to what I could find at my farmer’s market.

3 1/2 ounces quinoa (red quinoa if possible)

1 1/2 cups of veggie stock

1 sprig rosemary

1tbsp olive oil

1 small bunch of broccolini (or broccoli florets), chopped into bite sized pieces

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and cubed

2 ounces swiss chard, stalks and veins removed, roughly chopped

2 ounces butternut squash, cubed

1 ounce slivered almonds

 

Dressing:

1 cup orange juice

1/4 cup raw honey

1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar

1cup olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

 

Reduce the orange juice down to 1/2 cup by simmering in a pan, and then chill. When cool, mix with other dressing ingredients and set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F and roast butternut squash sprinkled with a little olive oil until it’s tender (about 20 minutes.)

Cook quinoa in the stock, adding the rosemary. When cooked, drain and toss in a little olive oil.

Saute apple, Swiss Chard and blanched broccolini (to blanch, simply add to pan of boiling water for 1 minute).

Mix roasted and sauteed veggies with quinoa and dress with a little of the dressing. Careful not to overdress the salad, you’ll have a lot of dressing over, which you can keep in a jar for later.

Sprinkle with almond flakes.

 

SEARED DIVERS SCALLOPS WITH CREAMED SWEET POTATO

I got a bunch of sweet potatoes in my weekly farm box – like a bunch of them some and some beautiful Swiss Chard. At the Farmer’s Market I spied some big juicy Diver’s Scallops – and I happen to think that scallops and sweet potatoes are a wonderful combo – hence this dish that I cobbled together. My ten year-old daughter said she hates all fish now (great – all of a sudden) but I ignored her protestations and forced myself not to cook something else for her – not an easy feat because our kitchen is like a short-order restaurant most of the time. Suffice to say that she now LOVES scallops and I just wish they weren’t so expensive! If you do decide to treat yourself, make sure they are as fresh as possible and remember that Diver’s scallops are a totally different animal to the cheaper and more ubiquitous small scallops that you can often buy frozen.

DIVER’S SCALLOPS WITH CREAMED SWEET POTATO

Serves 4

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1tbsp butter

2tbsp whole milk

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

1 bunch of chard, washed and thick stalks removed

1 small red onion

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2tbsp olive oil 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes

2tsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

12 Diver’s scallops (allow 3 or 4 per person)

 

Boil the potatoes under tender, drain and mash them well. Beat in the butter with a wooden spoon until melted, then add the milk. Use an immersion blender to blend the potatoes to a smooth puree. Put a lid on the pan to keep them warm. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and fry the onions and garlic until softened. Add the chard, red pepper flakes and balsamic vinegar. Cover the pan and fry on a low heat for about 5 minutes. When the chard is tender, remove from heat and dump out onto a wooden cutting board. Chop the chard and place in a bowl to keep warm. Wipe out the pan with paper towel (let’s not get another pan dirty here!) and add 2tbsp of olive oil. On a high heat, wait until the oil is just smoking that add the scallops. The trick to searing them is that you don’t move then until they move easily (become unstuck to the bottom of the pan,) if you try to turn them or move them too early, they’re not ready and won’t have got that lovely brown crust. Have a pair of tongs at the ready to check how they’re doing after about 3 minutes – when they move without too much tugging, flip them over and fry for another 3 – 4 minutes depending on the size of your scallops. Place a couple of scoops of potato in the center of large warmed plates, and arrange the chard around the edge. Finally top with the scallops and eat immediately.

VEGAN SPANAKOPITA

I love the traditional spinach & feta Greek pie, but I wanted to have a go at making a vegan version, where I wouldn’t be using a couple of sticks of butter for the phyllo. I also love to substitute firm tofu for the feta as the textures are pretty similar. Preparing phyllo pastry can always be a bit fiddly, but this is sooooooo worth the effort. I made this pie, which serves 6 for the 3 of us (husband, daughter & I,) and there was a tiny square left. Also think about it.. a 10 year old eating spinach and chard?? (this pie is packed with it but fully disguised because of all the good flavors).

You can use any mushrooms, but because I spotted some lovely Shitake mushrooms at the market, I grabbed them as they have so many health benefits. As you can see from the photo, I barely had any light left to take the photo ( I always rely on natural daylight,) the sun was almost gone from the end of my yard, so I held up the plate in the last few golden rays – still you get the idea!

Vegan Mushroom & Chard Spanakopita

 

2 tbsp grapeseed or olive  oil

2 large brown onions, chopped

2 cups Shitake or brown mushrooms, chopped

5 garlic cloves, chopped (seems like a lot but you need the flavor)

1tbsp fresh Oregano or 1tsp of dried

1 bunch of Swiss Chard, stalks & spines removed

1 bag of baby spinach

1 14oz container extra firm tofu, drained

Grated zest of one lemon

Juice of one lemon

1tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 cup Kalamata olives, chopped

Black pepper

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 box phyllo pastry dough

Olive oil for brushing the phyllo

 

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the onions, mushrooms, garlic and herbs. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pan. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the onions are soft.

Steam and drain the greens together, and when they are cool, make sure you squeeze out any excess water and chop them well.

In a large bowl, mash the tofu, add the onion mixture and the greens, combining everything really well. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, olives, black pepper and salt.

Grease a 3 ¼ quart baking dish.

Unroll the phyllo sheets carefully. Try pulling the first sheet off and add it to bottom of dish, brush with olive oil and then add the next sheet – continue up to 5 sheets.  Many of my sheets came apart and I made a total mess  - however, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have perfectly smooth/unbroken sheets – I PROMISE Add the filling. Finally, lay another 8 greased phyllo sheets on top of the pie.

Place in the oven for 60 minutes or until golden brown.