I was lucky enough to receive a beautiful bunch of Swiss chard from my friend, who is a gardener and grows wonderful vegetables and beautiful flowers. The freshly picked Swiss chard made a wonderful tasting tart.
You may use a store-bought refrigerated pie crust dough in this recipe. However, the whole wheat pastry is easy to make and the whole wheat flavor compliments the Swiss chard filling.
Single pie crust dough
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons ice water
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 bunch large Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Sea salt and black pepper
Crispy Prosciutto Crisps, optional, see recipe below
Whole Wheat Pastry Dough
Combine the ice water and vinegar in a small bowl.
Pulse flour and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
Drizzle with the vinegar and ice water, pulsing just a few times until the dough comes together. Place the dough on a bread board and pat into a disk.
Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours. Dough can be made 2 days ahead.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Season the ricotta cheese with kosher salt and pepper and, then, add the Parmesan cheese; set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic and shallots, stirring, until softened, about 60 seconds.
Add half of the chard and cook, tossing, until slightly wilted. Add the remaining chard and season with sea salt and pepper.
Cook, tossing occasionally, until completely wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the chopped chives, parsley and lemon zest; set aside.
To prepare the pastry:
Roll out the dough on a floured sheet of parchment into a 12” round about ⅛” thick. Add flour on top and bottom as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the paper or rolling-pin.
Transfer the rolled out dough while on the parchment to a baking sheet. Spread half of the ricotta over the dough, leaving a 1” border.
Top with the sautéed chard and spread the remaining ricotta over the chard.
Crimp the edges of the dough up around the filling as you might do with a pie; brush the dough and ricotta topping with the egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is firm in the center.
Slide the tart (still on the parchment) onto a wire rack and sprinkle with the prosciutto crisps, if using; cool for 15 minutes before cutting.
Serve warm or at room temperature. (Leftovers are good cold or reheated on a baking sheet at 375°F for about 10 minutes.)
While the tart is baking: Place 4 slices of very thin prosciutto flat on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
Bake about 12-15 minutes, or until fairly crisp. Remove the pan from the oven and let the prosciutto cool slightly.
The prosciutto will get even more crispy – like bacon – as it cools.
Break the prosciutto up into pieces and set aside.
So many more options become possible in March. Here, on the Gulf Coast, strawberries are in season and they are beautiful. They taste wonderful in a smoothie. I look forward to this time of year, so I can purchase artichokes because we love them stuffed. Asparagus make delicious salads and so does fennel. And, broccoli rabe is at its best in the spring, so look for it at your market.
Italian Seasoned Fresh Bread Crumbs
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (about 8 slices of regular, low carb or gluten-free bread), crusts removed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Tear the bread slices into pieces. Process into crumbs and place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined.
4 large artichokes, trimmed
2 cups Italian seasoned “bread” crumbs (see recipe above)
8 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat of your blade and minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Cut off the stems so the artichokes will stand upright. Slice off the top third of the artichokes and pull off some of the tough outermost leaves.
Trim off the pointed tips of the remaining leaves with kitchen shears. Wash the artichokes and turn them cut side-down to drain.
Rub the cut parts with a little lemon juice. Use your thumbs to open the leaves the rest to make room for stuffing and set aside.
Heat the oven to 425° F and place a small stock pot or tea kettle with water on the stove to boil.
Combine the bread crumbs, garlic, cheese and red pepper flakes.
Stuff one artichoke at a time by scooping out 1/2 cup of stuffing, placing the artichoke in the bottom of the bowl and sprinkling with the 1/2 cup of stuffing.
Use your fingers to work the stuffing in between the leaves. Be sure to get a bit of the stuffing between each of the outer leaves and in the top.
Transfer the stuffed artichokes to a baking dish just large enough to hold the artichokes upright.. Continue until all artichokes are stuffed and placed in the baking dish.
Drizzle each artichoke with lemon juice and olive oil. Pour boiling water from the kettle or pot to fill the dish about an inch high.
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake about 45 minutes. Check for tenderness by sliding a knife easily through the base of the artichokes.
Once tender, uncover and bake for 15 minutes, or until the artichokes turn golden brown.
Place each artichoke in an individual bowl and pour some of the broth in the baking dish over the artichokes before serving.
Spring Asparagus Salad
Variations: add cooked beets or crispy bacon to the salad.
1 bunch fresh, thin asparagus
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon whole-grain or Dijon-style mustard
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3 scallions (green onions), sliced thin
Bibb Lettuce cups
Bring a large pot or deep skillet of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt.
Trim and discard the tough woody asparagus ends.
Carefully place the asparagus spears in the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, or just until the vegetable is bright green and tender but not soft.
Drain and place the asparagus in a large dish filled with ice water.Let the asparagus cool in the ice bath for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the asparagus to a kitchen towel to dry. Cut the asparagus into two-inch pieces and then place them on a platter or individual salad plates lined with lettuce.
Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, mustard and a pinch of salt in a liquid measuring cup, until well blended, to form a vinaigrette.
Sprinkle the sliced scallions over the asparagus and then sprinkle the chopped egg on top.
Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently to coat.
Easy Strawberry Smoothie
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup regular milk or unsweetened almond or coconut milk
Sweetener of choice to taste
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses to serve.
Fennel Walnut Chicken Salad
1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast or 2 halves, cooked and diced
1/2 of a fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon roasted garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
In a large bowl, toss the chicken cubes with the lemon juice, garlic powder, fennel, fennel seeds, black pepper and walnuts until combined.
Add the mayonnaise to the chicken mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Taste the salad and see if you would like to add salt.
Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Broccoli Rabe Parmigiano
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
2 lbs Broccoli Rabe
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz cooked pasta, optional
Cut off about one inch from the bottom of the broccoli rabe stalks. Wash the broccoli very well. Cut into two-inch lengths.
In a large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes; sauté 30 seconds.
Add broccoli rabe, broth, lemon juice and lemon zest; mix well. Cover skillet and cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until the broccoli rabe is crisp-tender.
Add the salt, black pepper and grated cheese. Mix well and cover the pan. Let the mixture sit for five minutes before serving. This sauce is delicious served over pasta.
Springtime means ham and lamb in the meat department. They are often on sale now in the market or from your local farm. Ham is always a good buy and supplies plenty of leftovers for several meals. Spring also brings us lots of new vegetables and fruits, so I look forward to using them and developing new recipes with them. I am especially taken with my newly discovered rutabagas. They are very similar to potatoes but contain many less carbs. I decided to try making my potato salad recipe with them and it turned out very well and so delicious. Fennel is also in season and there are so many good ways to prepare it, either cooked or raw. Try out some new vegetables this week and see how you like them.
Glazed Spiral-Sliced Ham
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
5 lb Spiral Cut Fully Cooked Ham
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Place the ham cut side down onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Mix together the brown sugar, apricot jam and mustard in a small bowl. Brush half of the glaze onto the ham using a pastry brush.
Reserve the remaining glaze. Enclose the foil around the ham and place on a rimmed baking sheet also covered with foil (for easy cleanup).
Roast for 75 minutes in the preheated oven, or if your ham is a different size, figure 15 minutes per pound.
Take the ham out of the oven, pull the foil away and brush the remaining glaze onto the ham.
Place the ham back in the oven without enclosing it in the foil.
Bake 15-20 minutes more or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 140°F. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Rutabaga “Potato Style” Salad
1 ½ lbs rutabaga or red potatoes, peeled
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pickle juice
1/4 cup minced bread and butter pickles
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion or scallions
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Cut the rutabaga or potato into thin slices, about 1 x 1 inch, or cut the vegetables into cubes if you prefer that cut.
Place the rutabaga in a large pot with a lid. Cover with cold water and add 1 teaspoon salt.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook with the lid ajar about 15-20 minutes until the rutabaga is fork tender.
Drain and place the rutabaga in a medium serving bowl. Add the pickle juice and let sit at room temperature for an hour or so.
Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and taste to see if the salad needs salt.
Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.
Sprinkle the top with some chopped parsley and a little paprika, if you would like to garnish the salad before serving it.
Fennel Salad With Avocado Dressing
2 plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 of a large fennel bulb, cut into one inch cubes
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Avocado Dressing, see link
Combine the tomatoes, fennel, onion and pine nuts in a medium serving bowl. Add a few tablespoons of dressing to the top of the salad.
Serve with the remaining Avocado dressing on the side.