|CSA Diary: Swiss Chard Quiche|
|Right Food for the Season - Early Summer|
|Written by R. Patrick Kent|
Two weeks in. The CSA train has left the station. We are now picking up the bags on Tuesday evening and I'm coming home from work excited to see what has come in from the garden each week. So far, it's been lots of leafy greens: Chard, kale, red and green leaf lettuce, and collard greens. In addition, we have beets, radishes, and snap peas (picked ourselves!) The weather so far this year has been great for growing and the bag has been brimming with produce each week. This is a stark contrast to last June in New England when it rained 70% of the time and it was slim pickings for the first few weeks. (Hello, 3 lettuce leaves and a radish!)
As anyone with a CSA share knows, the trick is figuring out ways to utilize the bounty each week and planning meals before the next bag arrives. I'm extremely busy, like most folks, between a job, a band and contributing to the development of the site. As much as I love to cook I don't always get a chance to leisurely prepare meals for scenic al fresco dining out on the Hamptons or in rural Connecticut a la Ina Garten or Martha Stewart. That's not a knock. Trust me, I'd love to do nothing but prepare four-course meals elegantly served in an aesthetic setting. But that ain't the way it is. I've got maybe a few hours total to cook each week. Meal planning is definitely a must.
Last Tuesday we had plenty of beautiful Swiss chard, lettuce and beets in the bag. I thought the Swiss chard would make a great quiche to be served warm with a salad the next night (and, since it's just two of us, probably another night during the week as well... no reason to have the oven on more than once in a 48 hour period in the summer.)
Quiche is a great dish for meal planning. It can be eaten a few minutes out of the oven or cold out of the refrigerator. I love eggs, generally. They are possibly the most versatile protein when working with an abundance of vegetables. So, I always have eggs, cheese and milk in the refrigerator. You can make the pie crust from scratch (see Michael Ruhlman's Ratio for an easy and relatively quick recipe) or use a pre-made crust. Like patio dining, I'd love to say I always get to cook from scratch but that just wouldn't be true. When you are pressed for time you need to make compromises. One of those compromises is keeping frozen pie crusts on hand for quickly utilizing great produce with limited time.
This quiche was wonderful alongside a salad made from green and red leaf lettuce and cold roast beets tossed with a touch of truffle oil and champagne vinegar. Serving it up the next night on white porcelain with a glass of sauvignon blanc to accompany it, I felt like maybe I could be dining in one of Martha's cookbook photos.
Swiss Chard Quiche
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp sour cream
1 clove of garlic, diced
3 strips of thick-cut bacon (optional)
1 oz of Gruyere cheese, shredded
Frozen Pie Crust or homemade pre-baked Crust
Pre-heat the oven to 350. Wash the chard. Dry and slice the leaves into relatively bite-size pieces.
Cut the bacon into 1/2 pieces and saute in a large pan until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the chard to pan and saute in the bacon fat until wilted. Add diced garlic and a pinch of cayenne to the chard. Sprinkle some sea salt over the greens and cook another few minutes. Remove from the heat and strain the liquid out in a colander.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the 4 eggs with the milk and sour cream. Add a pinch of nutmeg and some salt and pepper.
In the pie crust, spread the gruyere cheese around the bottom. Arrange the greens over the cheese and then the cooked bacon. Pour the egg mixture into the crust to cover the cheese, greens and bacon.
Put the quiche in the oven for about 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 - 20 minutes if eating that night. Otherwise, cool it and refrigerate it for another night.