Victory gardening, farm-to-table restaurants, locavores, farmers markets, community shared agriculture groups, seasonal eating and even preserving foods through canning, have all become very trendy in the world of food. The concept of “trendy” gets a bad rap, especially when you think of it terms of things we wore in high school, like pleather ( plastic leather for those of you who don’t know) pants, which in my defense people seemed to like or at least that’s what they told me to my face. On the other hand, trendy things like growing your own food, supporting farmers and helping the planet by eating seasonal and local foods, is actually a good thing. I just hope it’s not a fad and that it’s a change people will make for life. I’ve invested a lot of money into my home garden the past few summers, much more than my scrunchie making business in the 90’s and I don’t want to see this fail. Besides being trendy with chefs and “foodies” alike, food that you grow yourself or preserve yourself or even buy from the farmer a few towns away -actually tastes better.
We all know how things like corn, cucumbers and string beans grow but watching them reach for the highest branch or stake around them, wrapping their amazing little tendrils tight as they climb with your own eyes, is like witnessing a small miracle .
It’s amazing to watch, in a matter of days, your little seedlings sprout up into giant plants, taller than you, that produce actual food! Edible, delicious, super- fresh food. I hugged the first baby, new potato from my crop yesterday. Held it to my face in amazement and gave it a little, baby potato hug. And my San Marzano plum tomatoes? They are cuter than toddlers playing with puppies. I take that back, but really, you gotta see these little guys, they are something special. The only draw back to this giant garden I have invested in, is that it produces, in this crazy hot summer we are having here in NY, more than 2 people can eat. About 6-8 cucumbers a day and 40-50 string beans. When my 38 tomato plants start turning red I am really gonna be in trouble. My Rainbow Swiss Chard is growing back to full size after two days of cutting it down, which leads us to the fact that all this delicious produce must be cooked and consumed…let’s start with the chard…
This Martha Stewart recipe is incredibly delicious, one of the few things I make very often. The cheese and little bit of flour in it make it seem rich and creamy and everyone who tries it, loves it and asks for the recipe. The olive oil dough is effortless and bakes up more beautiful and perfect than any pie crust I’ve ever seen. The recipe uses a good amount of chard, so it will help you use up your crop. I’ve made this as an actual pie, as the recipe calls for and its great, but again, my household is only 2 and we couldn’t eat it all at once, so I made these into easy to freeze hand pies. Perfect for lunch in the garden.
Swiss Chard Pie recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart http://www.marthastewart.com/281788/swiss-chard-pie?backto=true&backtourl=/photogallery/mid-day-mini-meal-recipes
Olive Oil Dough
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Swiss Chard Pie
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, cut into small dice
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, stems cut into small dice and leaves chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Grated zest of 1 large lemon, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 large egg and 1 tsp water for egg wash
To make the Olive Oil Dough
Combine flour, extra-virgin olive oil, cold water, and coarse salt in a bowl and stir with a fork until the ingredients come together. Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough until smooth, only for about 1 minute, don’t over knead. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for half an hour.
To make the Swiss Chard Pie
In a large pot, sweat onion and garlic in olive until softened. Add chard stems and red-pepper flakes and cook until the stems have softened. Add all of the leaves to the pot and cook until wilted completely. Reduce heat to low and stir in Pecorino Romano cheese, flour, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes until thickened and shut the heat and let cool.
To make hand pies: Roll the dough into a large rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Cut into squares the size of your choice. Fill each square with a few teaspoons of chard filling. Egg wash the edges and fold over to make a triangle. Seal the sides with a fork and egg wash the top again. Cut two vent holes with a sharp knife.
To make a deep dish pie: Separate the dough into 2 pieces, 2/3 of it for the bottom crust and 1/3 for the top. Grease an 8-inch, 2 inch deep round cake pan. Roll the larger portion of the dough out to fit the bottom and sides of the pan, you should have a little bit coming off of the top edge. Fill pan with chard mixture. Roll remaining 1/3 of dough into a 9 1/2-inch round to place on top of the filling. Roll the edge of the bottom crust over the top and tuck it in to seal it. It should have a rounded, seamless edge. Cut vents into center of pie and brush pie with egg wash.
At this point the pie can be frozen and baked at a later time.
Preheat oven to 400, with rack in lowest position. Bake frozen pie until crust is deep golden brown, about 1 1/2 hours for the pie or 20-30 minutes for the hand pies. Less cooking time is needed if baking the dough fresh instead of frozen. Can be served warm or at room temperature.