The large green leaves of Swiss chard have an earthy flavor and a meaty texture. It is hard to imagine North African cuisine without them, but many European cuisines have adopted this great green in their dishes.
In its January issue Al Hashulchan, Israel’s leading food magazine, offers several interesting options for cooking these greens, called mangold in Hebrew, which are in season right now.
This is a rich sour soup that can be served with rice as a complete meal.
✔ 2 onions, chopped
✔ 4 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 4 carrots, peeled and cut into thick chunks
✔ 3 potatoes, peeled and coarsely cut
✔ 4 celery stalks, cut into thick chunks
✔ 1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. hot paprika
✔ 2 cloves garlic, minced
✔ 2 Tbsp tomato paste
✔ 1 tsp. pilpelshuma (hot sauce of the North African Jewish cuisine)
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ 8 cups chicken stock or water
✔ 2 bunches Swiss chard, sliced into thin strips, including the white part
✔ Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the onions about 5 minutes until golden. Add the carrots, potatoes and celery and saute.
Add the paprika, tomato paste, garlic, pilpelshuma, salt and pepper and saute together uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Pour the stock into the pot and bring to a boil. Add the Swiss chard, lower the heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes until vegetables are cooked through. Season with lemon juice and taste. Add salt if necessary.
SWISS CHARD AND GOAT CHEESE TART
Use a round 24-cm. baking form. Using a ready-made melawah makes things go much quicker.
✔ 4 red onions, quartered
✔ Oil spray
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ Pinch sugar
✔ 30 gr. butter
✔ 2 bunches Swiss chard, sliced into thin strips, only green part
✔ 50 gr. sliced almonds (plus some for garnish)
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. ground allspice
✔ 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed, cut into quarters
✔ 1 roll goat cheese, sliced into 1⁄2-cm. slices
✔ 1 thawed melawah leaf (or flaky pastry)
Heat oven to 180º and line a baking sheet.
To prepare filling: Place the onion quarters in the baking sheet, spray with a little oil and sprinkle with salt and sugar. Bake the onions for 25 minutes until caramelized. remove from the oven and cool.
Keep the oven on.
In a large skillet, melt the butter and saute the Swiss chard for 5 minutes, until it shrinks by two-thirds. Remove to a strainer. When cooled, place in a bowl. Add almonds and season with salt, pepper, allspice and nutmeg.
Line the round baking dish with parchment paper cut to fit perfectly in the bottom. Arrange the onions and tomatoes around the outer circle and the cheese rounds in the inner circle.
Place the Swiss chard on top and cover with the pastry Fold the pastry around the filling. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden.
Turn carefully onto a serving plate when still hot and garnish with almonds.