two ways with swiss chard

 At our local fruit and vegetable grocer you can buy huge bunches of swiss chard for $0.99 - it's one of my favourite wintertime vegetables; that deep shade of green, generously leaved, thick-stalked and full of vitamins to lift one's energy levels. Recently I came across a french recipe for a gratin of swiss chard (or silver beet) stalks with blue cheese... can you imagine those silky stalks baked with rich cheese and creaminess?! Still, here are two more modest ways I like to make use of my green leaved booty...

~ Pumpkin & Swiss Chard Soup ~

2 tablespoons butter or ghee
1 large brown onion, chopped
500g pumpkin, seeded, skinned and chopped  in large chunks
1 large swiss chard (leaves & stalks)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup fresh parsley
handful of fresh chives for serving
creme fraiche or sour cream for serving

Heat butter in a large pot, gentle sauté onions until soft. Add in chopped pumpkin and chard. Pour over 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer for 30-40 minutes. Add in fresh parsley and blend with a handheld mixer. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Serve into bowls, stirring in a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle finely chopped chives.

~ Tart with Sauteed Leeks, sheep's cheese & swiss chard ~

for the pastry:
1 1/2 cup plain flour
125g good quality butter
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream 

Using your fingertips rub butter into flour. Add salt and sourcream and knead into a ball until smooth. Cover in plastic-film and refrigerate for an hour.

for the filling:
6 baby leeks or 3 medium sized ones
big handful of swiss chard leaves 
1/2 cup sheep feta (goat's would work well too)
4 large free range eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste

Cut leeks in thirds and slice lenthwise. Heat 2 tablesoons of butter in a frying pan and gently sautee leeks until golden and beginning to caramelise  In a bowl beat eggs, cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Roll out your pastry and gently ease into wide tart dish that has been greased with butter beforehand. Blind bake shell at 180'c for 20 minutes (the pastry will puff up a bit so you'll need to weigh it down with baking paper and some rice or weights). Cool a little. Scatter shredded swiss chard leaves in the shell. Pour in egg mixture and arrange golden leeks on top. Bake at 180'c for 25 minutes or until golden. 

Bon appétit!