Swiss Chard Sauté

Swiss Chard is an under-rated vegetable. There, I’ve said it. But once you have tried this easy-to-prepare Swiss Chard Sauté, you will become a convert.

So what is Swiss Chard? It’s a green, leafy vegetable that is high in vitamins A, K, C and E as well as the minerals magnesium, manganese, iron and potassium. Young plants can be eaten raw in salads and more mature plants (what you generally see in the produce section of your grocery store) is best eaten sauteed. In Turkey and Egypt is is often cooked into soup or broth. I love the slightly peppery taste and the contrast of the somewhat crunchy tender stems along with the softer leaves. It can be blanched and added to quiche instead of spinach or kale for a more flavorful accent. But this Swiss Chard Sauté is probably the simplest way to prepare it and something my son enjoyed even as a young child.

Great as part of a vegan meal or as a side to grilled fish, chicken or meat. I like left-overs with scrambled eggs for breakfast the next day. However, you enjoy it, be sure to pick a bunch with shiny, unblemished leaves and the tenderest stems. Chard comes in different varieties – green, rainbow and red – but they all taste pretty much the same and any could be used in this recipe, which can be easily be doubled. This version comes from Jane Brody’s Good Food Cookbook, a great source of delicious and nutritious recipes.

Recipe for Swiss Chard Saute

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Ingredients

Mangold or Swiss chard 'Rainbow' leaves isolated on white

2 teaspoons EVOO or good vegetable oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

1/2 cup sliced leeks (white part only) or 1/2 onion, halved and thinly sliced

2/3 cup thinly sliced celery

1 Tablespoon broth (vegetable or chicken) or water

1 good bunch of Swiss Chard, coarsely chopped, including thinner stems

Freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok, preferably non-stick. Add the garlic, leeks or onion and celery. Sauté the vegetables, stirring them for about 3 minutes.

Add the broth or water and the Swiss Chard. Season with salt and pepper, stirring the ingredients to combine them. I find that using tongs works best here. Cover the pan and simmer/steam the mixture, stirring occasionally over low heat for about 5 minutes or until the chard is just wilted and tender.

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Butternut Squash and Arugula Pizza

This simply beautiful, tasty and healthy pizza hits all of the right notes for autumn. Butternut squash and arugula pizza is colorful, smells wonderful and tastes even better. And it’s simple to make at home! This recipe is another success from Valerie Bertinelli’s kitchen.

The vibrant orange of the butternut squash and the bright, deep green of the arugula will make any cheerless, wet autumn day seem just a little bit brighter. And the tang of goat cheese along with the ooey gooeyness of mozzarella makes for the perfect mouthfeel. Additional umami comes from the fresh sage, rosemary, garlic and lemon. What’s not to love here? Did I mention that it was easy to put together? So the next time you are looking for a delicious vegetarian option – perfect for meatless Monday – or want pizza without the guilt, try this Butternut Squash and Arugula Pizza.

While most vegetables are available all year long these days, autumn really begins squash season. And not only do squashes taste great and are versatile, but they are nutrient rich foods. Butternut squash is low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and beta carotene. For some other great recipe ideas that use butternut squash, check these out:

Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Spiced Butternut Squash and Farro Salad

Red Quinoa and Butternut Squash Salad

And for a different take on Butternut Squash Pizza

Recipe

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

Dough

2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves 

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast 

1/2 teaspoon sugar 

Kosher salt 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the bowl 

Cornmeal, for dusting, optional 

Topping

One 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch slices (I had a bigger squash so roasted all of it and saved the rest for another use.)

2 1/2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

2 tablespoons torn fresh sage leaves 

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary 

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

1 large garlic clove, smashed 

2 cups shredded mozzarella

4 ounces goat cheese, coarsely crumbled 

3 cups baby arugula 

Zest of 1 lemon plus juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions

For the dough: Combine the flour, rosemary, yeast, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add 3/4 cup warm water and the oil and process until the dough forms a ball. Transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

For the topping: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the squash with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Roast until just tender, about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the sage, rosemary, red pepper flakes and garlic. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes, just to infuse the oil.

Sprinkle cornmeal or flour on a 14-inch pizza pan and set aside. (I used a heavy-duty cookie sheet because I have a pizza steel but not a pan. The steel was a bit small. The cookie sheet worked just fine.)

Liberally flour a clean work surface. Place the dough on top and use your hands to stretch it out into a 14-inch circle. After patting it out with my fingers, I gently rolled the dough over my knuckles, pushing out carefully to stretch the dough. The circle doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s “rustic,” as Valerie would say! Carefully lay the dough on the pizza pan/cookie sheet. Brush the infused oil onto the dough. Top with the mozzarella and the roasted squash, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge.


Bake the pizza until the crust is golden brown, 14 to 18 minutes. Carefully sprinkle the goat cheese evenly on top.

Toss the arugula with the 2 teaspoons olive oil, lemon zest and juice and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Top the pizza with the arugula, then cut into slices to serve.

Socca Niçoise Chickpea Bread

Tonight we’re having Greek Red Lentil Soup for dinner and I wanted some kind of bread to go with it. Socca Niçoise chickpea bread is the perfect accompaniment. Between the lentils and the chickpeas I certainly don’t need to worry about protein or flavor. This would be the perfect “meatless Monday” meal! And while I have no issues with gluten and happen to love almost all breads and pastas, this recipe is not only vegan, but it is gluten-free. The Socca was especially delicious drizzled with EVOO and with either tapenade or roasted smushed garlic spread on top. I’m just sayin’.

I will never be able to eat Socca without thinking of Julia Child. She did one of her TV episodes on the South of France and highlighted Socca. At the end of the show, in that inimitable Julia Child voice and with her joie de vivre, she looked at the audience and said “Socca to me!” [For those too young to recall the TV show Laugh-In, “Sock it to me” was a recurring phrase.]

What is Socca, really?

Socca Niçoise chickpea bread is a traditional Southern French treat. There are a dozen different ways you can make it. You’ll most often find socca cooked street-side on fiery grills, where the resulting flatbread is coarsely chopped and served in a cone with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. While every home cook in the South of France may have their own technique for preparing the batter, the ingredients are almost always the same: chickpea flour water, and olive oil. The Socca sold on the street are more crepe-like than this recipe but it still is delicious and worth making.

What is chickpea flour and is it the same as besan?

Chickpea flour is made from dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and is also commonly known as garbanzo flourgram flour, and besan. However, besan or gram flour is a flour of chana dal or split brown chickpeas. Chickpea flour or garbanzo flour is ground up white chickpeas. I happened to have besan on hand the first time I made this so that is what I used. I then bought chickpea/garbanzo flour and made it again. I also used 4.5 ounces of flour the second time instead of going with 1 cup. It turned out that one cup actually weighed out to 5.33 ounces. So which was better?

Both were good, but if I had to choose, I preferred the one made with actual chickpea flour and when I measured by weight rather than cups. The resulting socca had more flavor and was more reminiscent of what you would buy from a street vendor in Nice. I also drizzled olive oil on the top after 5 minutes in the oven and then returned it to the oven for another 3 minutes. When it came out of the broiler, I then drizzled more EVOO and sprinkled on my za’atar. The edges and bottom were brown and crispy and the middle was just barely flexible. I could get addicted to this especially since it is sooooooooooo easy to make. The second time I ate it with my delicious split pea soup. So, so satisfying.

Recipe for Socca Niçoise Chickpea Bread

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chickpea flour (4 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan and drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1+ teaspoon za’atar (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare the chickpea batter. Whisk the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, rosemary and salt together in a medium bowl until smooth. Let rest for 30 minutes to give the flour time to absorb the water.
  2. Preheat the oven with the pan. Arrange an oven rack 6 inches below the broiler element and heat to 450°F with a 10-inch cast iron skillet inside. About 5 minutes before the batter is done resting, turn the oven to broil. (Don’t try this with any other kind of pan. And if you don’t have a cast iron skillet – get one. They are the best for so many things but especially when you want to really sear or brown food.)
  3. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Add about 1+ teaspoon of oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan when the pan is swirled. Pour the batter into the center of the pan. Tilt the pan so the batter coats the entire surface of the pan.
  4. Broil the socca for 5 to 8 minutes. Broil the socca for 5 minutes. The top will begin to look a bit cracked. Drizzle generously with EVOO and return the pan to the oven for about 3 more minutes. The socca should be fairly flexible in the middle but crispy on the edges.
  5. Slice and serve. Use a flat spatula to work your way under the socca and ease it from the pan onto a cutting board. It should come right out leaving your pan practically clean. Drizzle with more EVOO and sprinkle with za’atar. Slice it into wedges or squares.

RECIPE NOTES

Storage: Socca is best if eaten immediately after baking while still warm, but can be refrigerated and re-toasted for up to 1 week.

Chickpea flour: You can find chickpea flour in the bulk bins at Whole Foods and other natural foods-type stores. Bob’s Red Mill also sells it in packages. Look for it under the name “garbanzo bean flour” if you’re having trouble finding it.