Posts Tagged chard

Wintery Grilled Cheese (with Goat Cheese, Roasted Beets & Wilted Chard).

It’s a quiet winter Sunday and I’m puttering about the house and working on various projects (cleaning, organizing, laundry, etc). It’s freezing outside and the weather is manic; alternating between snow flurries and sunshine. I’ve got a chill in my bones that I can’t quite shake, and no amount of coffee seems to do the trick. I click back and forth between the Packers game and the Golden Globes, as I can’t decide which is more depressing.

I think it’s the perfect day to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

Why? Because grilled cheese is the perfect winter meal.

In addition, the grilled cheese sandwich is a prime example of a time-tested culinary rule: melty cheese + bread = culinary magic. (If interpreted loosely, this rule also applies to pizza, quesadillas, nachos, lasagna, mac n’ cheese, cheeseburgers, etc. You get the idea.)
So, this sandwich is essentially a dressed up version of the bread and cheese rule. I took a couple slices of quality bread and added goat cheese, roasted beets, wilted chard, caramelized onions, along with a healthy dollop of creamy horseradish.

The result? My new favorite winter meal. I’m not kidding. This sandwich is a wonderful tribute to the season, and utilizes some of my favorite winter vegetables: beets, onions, and chard. The creamy goat cheese melds together perfectly with the earthy winter veggies, and the horseradish gives the sandwich just the right amount of punch.

If this is what winter tastes like, then I hope winter lasts forever.

(OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit with that last sentence. At the very least, this sandwich makes the winter much more tolerable.)

Wintery Grilled Cheese: With Goat Cheese, Roasted Beets, and Wilted Chard.
(Inspired from a similar sandwich I consumed at Bunk Bar. Thank you, Tommy. You rule.)
Makes 4 hearty sandwiches.

8 slices quality bread (I splurged on Grand Central Bakery’s Sliced Campagnolo. So good.)
4 ounces goat cheese (Chevre), room temperature
3 cups of rainbow chard, roughly chopped
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
2 medium-large beets
Horseradish, to taste

Roast the beets: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets and trim off beet greens, leaving a 1/2 inch “stem”. Wrap each beet individually in tin foil. Once the oven is hot, place wrapped beets directly on the oven rack (or on a pan, if you’d rather). Roast for 40 minutes (up to an hour), until beets are soft all the way through when pricked with a fork. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, unwrap beets and remove skin. The skin should come off easily (I usually use a paper towel and gently rub off the skin). Set beets aside.

While the beets are roasting, caramelize the onions. In a medium size non-stick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the sliced onions. Allow to cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and caramelized (about 30 minutes). If they begin to cook too quickly, turn the heat down to low. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet (no need to clean it, the onion flavor will just enhance the chard), heat a splash of oil over medium heat. Add in the chopped chard and allow to heat. Stir, and after a minute or two, add one tablespoon of water to the pan. Cover, and turn the heat down to medium-low. Allow the chard to cook like this for 5 minutes. Check on the chard, if the water has evaporated but the chard is still under-cooked, add a bit more water and cook for 2-3 more minutes. I like my chard leaves to be wilted, but I like the chard stems to still retain a bit of crunch. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside until ready to make your sandwiches.

Once the beets, chard, and onions have cooked, your sandwiches are ready to assemble!

I trust that you all know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, so I’m not going to go overboard with instructions. Essentially, spread a (thick) layer of goat cheese on one slice of bread. Top with beet slices, wilted chard, and caramelized onions. Spread creamy horseradish on the other slice of bread (along with a little more goat cheese, if you so desire). Butter the exterior of your bread slices, and cook your grilled cheese sandwiches on a griddle (or non-stick skillet) over medium-high heat. Cook sandwiches for 3-5 minutes on each side, until bread is golden and the goat cheese is warm and ‘melty’.

Note: goat cheese does not “melt” like other cheeses, but it will get warm, gooey, and delicious.

Eggs in a Nest.

So, call me a little bit crazy but I’ve added one more commitment to my slightly over-committed life: I joined a book club.

I’ve joined book clubs in the past and it seems that they always disband before anyone ever finishes the first book. We always have the best of intentions, but life gets in the way. But this particular book club is shaping up to be the real deal. This club consists of 3 ladies (myself included), and we meet twice a month(ish), depending on schedules. We drink wine, eat food, and we actually discuss the contents of the ‘assigned’ book! We’ve only been a club for a few months now, and we are just finishing our second book: Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Animal Vegetable Miracle’.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I’ve read a lot of food books in my day, so the ideas presented in the book weren’t necessarily new to me. I’ve already committed to eating seasonally and locally – to the best of my ability and with the resources that I have available. With that being said, my one critique of the book would be that most of us aren’t in a position to do what Barbara Kingsolver and her family did. We aren’t famous writers who inherit a large family farm; nor do we have the freedom to drop our lives, move to a farm, and live off the land for a year.

So while I applaud Kingsolver for her locavore ways (and the awareness she brings to national food issues), my committment to the local food movement will look quite a bit different. I may not have a farm, but I have a little duplex with a side yard…and I will grow as much food as I can in that little yard! I will shop at my local farmer’s market. I won’t buy fresh tomatoes in December (partially for environmental reasons…mostly because they taste awful!).

Really, at the end of the day, I think responsible eating is about doing the best that you can with the resources you’ve been given. I know that I’ve been blessed with a lot of resources, and I am grateful for that. I am so fortunate to live in Portland – the mecca of all things local, sustainable, organic, etc. I know that not everyone has these resources at their fingertips and so I would encourage you to just do the best you can. Start small and just see where it goes.

Two years ago, my husband and I made the decision to stop eating fast food. I can honestly say that one decision changed everything. We didn’t eat much fast food to begin with, but this one decision forced us to be much more thoughtful about our meals. We had revelations about why a taco at Por Que No? (a local taqueria, known for their sustainable practices) costs so much more than a taco at Taco Bell. It was suddenly so evident: This is how much real food costs. Since that time, our eating and shopping habits have changed a lot. It all started with that one decision. And I know we still have a long way to go, but this is a process. You just do the best you can.

So, while most of us may not have the resources of Barbara Kingsolver, many of her suggestions are still applicable to the average American. I absolutely love that she includes recipes in the book (written by her 19 year old daughter!) and I’ve made quite a few of them. My favorite recipe from the book is one called Eggs in a Nest. The name of the recipe is quite literal: the eggs are poached in a ‘nest’ of wilted greens and are served over a bed of brown rice. This is a wonderful way to showcase hearty winter greens, and it makes for a quick, satisfying, and cheap (!) midweek meal.

**Oh, and before I forget, I’ve been meaning to post a link to this lovely seasonal produce calendar from Cottage Industrialist. I printed one off and hung it on my fridge, and it serves as a wonderful reminder as to what is in season!

Adapted from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

1 large bunch of greens, roughly chopped (Chard, kale, mustard greens, etc.)
4-6 large eggs (1 per person)
1 small can fire roasted tomatoes (*Note: in the winter, when fresh tomatoes are terrible, I live by Muir Glen Organic canned tomatoes. They are amazing. For this recipe, I used their Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chilies.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
Salt & pepper, to taste
Dash of red chili flakes
1.5 cups brown or wild rice

Cook rice according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large pot or skillet over medium heat, sautee the onions until translucent. Add in garlic, cook for a couple minutes more. Add in canned tomatoes and juices, mix to combine and bring to a simmer. Add in salt, pepper, and chili flakes (to taste).

Add in all of the greens and cover the pot with a lid. Keep heat at medium or medium-low and stir occasionally, to make sure all the greens are cooking down & wilting.

Once the greens are tender (5-10 minutes), turn the heat down to low/med-low. Using a spoon or spatula, create small round indents (aka “nests”) in the greens. Gently crack an egg into each “nest”, being careful not to break the yolk (I usually crack an egg into a small bowl or cup and then gently lower the egg onto its ‘nest’). Cover the pot/skillet and let the eggs poach in the greens & juices until the whites have turned clear (about 5-6 minutes).

Gently scoop out a healthy serving of greens & one egg per person. Serve over rice.