Years before we became parents, Charles and I celebrated countless hours in the kitchen, creating elaborate dishes from far away lands or exploring produce that wasn’t common in our area. Having grown up in the north, greens were not part of our vocabulary.
Parenthood led to many changes in our lives and habits, the dishes we made were amongst the early casualties – tender pallets objected to such different foods than they were exposed to at daycare or school. Once they grew older we began to introduce the exotic, often creating simplified versions for them and the full experience for us.
Still though, some of our favorite dishes are often left for special occasions like the celebration of a holiday or milestone, when the protests of the offspring are hushed with a simple look and the knowledge that they are being treated to something special.
One such dish I share with you – It is amongst a handful of favorites that we serve on Father’s Day. It’s one of the first recipes that we mastered, and while it does take more effort and time than your average chaotic weeknight allows, it’s perfect for a lazy day where family comes together and memories are shared.
So, if you and yours work well in the kitchen together, gather your ingredients, turn on the music, and share your favorite drinks while you enjoy this Father’s Day.
Swiss Chard & Mushroom Pie
This dish is rich with flavor and texture, and it easily became a favorite after the first time we made it. It was passed to us via a cooking magazine from the early 90’s (the source has been lost with time). While it is not a vegetarian dish, it can be easily modified for that special someone.
2 slices bacon
1 C chopped green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. mushrooms, chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
1-1/4 C chicken broth
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 lb. Swiss Chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
1-1/2 C cooked rice
1/2 C half-n-half
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper (to taste)
1 frozen puff-pastry, thawed
1 egg beaten to blend w/1 Tbsp. water (glaze)
To prepare the filling
Cook the bacon in a heavy large skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel. Add green onions and garlic to the same pan and sauce until tender, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauce until just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add flour and stir to coat, about 1 minute.
Gradually mix in broth and add nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add chard and cook until just limp, about 3 minutes.
Mix in rice, 1/2 & 1/2, and cheese. Crumble bacon and add to mix.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Mixture can be made up to 1 day ahead, cover and refrigerate.
To prepare the crust
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Roll out the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch square. Trim to a 12-inch round.
Rewarm filling and transfer to a 10-inch deep dish glass pie dish. Arrange pastry over filling in the dish.
Press pastry edges firmly around rim of dish to seal. Cut several decorative slits in pastry top to vent steam. Brush pastry with glaze.
Bake pie until crust is puffed and golden brown; about 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and let rest for several minutes before serving.
Swiss Chard Fast Facts:
Scientific Name: Beta vulgaris sups. ciclc
Country of Origin: Eastern Mediterranean
Type: Biennial grown as an annual
Uses: Culinary, increasing in popularity as an ‘edible landscape’
Noted nutrients: Vitamins A, K, and C, E and the dietary minerals, magnesium, manganese, iron and potassium.
Cautions: Closely related to beets and spinach, do not plant in succession with chard as diseases and pests can be passed between the crops.
Growing Conditions: Full sun in the early growing season with partial shade during the summer. Stems and leaves toughen and become bitter with too much sun. While this plant falls into the ‘cool season’ category and it is tolerant of light frost, it bolts when exposed to cold temps for extended periods. Does not do well in saturated soils.
To Harvest: When leaves reach a useable size, cut an inch or two above the soil avoiding damage to the central growing point for regrowth and harvest. Leaves toughen with age, cut plants back to a height of 4 inches to encourage tender growth.
Happy Father’s Day to each of you who have held the hand of the next generation and have been there when you were needed as they explore their world and make their own life’s path. While they may have been able to do it without you, knowing that you are there to support them, provide advice, and even spot them some cash on occasion, makes all the difference.
Until next time, may your knees be green, and your spirit light.