Rainbow chard is almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Whenever I’m lucky enough to have a bunch, I feel like I could just gather up the leaves like a bouquet of flowers, arrange them in a vase, and admire them. (Sometimes I do slip them into a glass of cool water on the counter so I can enjoy them while I’m cooking, though not for long since they wilt so quickly).
But chard has much more than just good looks, it has good flavor and texture (somewhat similar to spinach), culinary versatility, and a rich store of nutrients (like vitamins A, C, E, K, B6; fiber; calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium). And the stems are not only edible, they’re delectable, with a sweet flavor and crisp texture.
Lucky for us, our last CSA box was bursting with a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard, which put me in mind of an iconic Niçoise dish: trouchia -- an omelette packed with chard leaves and cheese that’s often eaten on a picnic. It resembles an Italian frittata in that it’s stuffed with goodies and cooked low and slow to bring out the flavors and leave the center baveuse (slightly runny, from the French baver, to drool). The Italian influence on this French dish is no surprise given that Italy ruled Nice and rest of that stretch along the Mediterranean coast until 1860.
Like a tortilla española, making la trouchia involves a slightly nerve-wracking flip (!). You can just pop in under a broiler instead (as many people do with frittatas); it’s a little less risky, but a lot less fun. (What’s the worst that can happen? The trouchia might tumble, but you can just scoop it right up and carry on.)
When cooking with chard, I usually chop the stems and incorporate them into whatever I’m making, usually by sautéing them a little longer than the leaves, along with onion if it’s part of the dish. But with trouchia, the texture is so wonderfully tender, I don't like to mess with it. Instead, I pickled the chard stems and ended up with one of my favorite condiments.
On Bastille Day, Stuart and I found ourselves wishing so badly that we could be in France with my sister and her family celebrating -- instead of working in the sweltering city -- that we decided to take a little (virtual) trip to the French Riviera in the form of a picnic by a wetland (OK, so not quite the Mediterranean Sea we’d had in mind).
We had a few bottles of rose from the vineyard where I worked in Provence collecting dust, so we decided to bring one along.
I won’t lie and tell you we felt like we were anywhere near France, but I will tell you, honestly, that it was lovely just the same.
1 small onion, halved (or ½ large onion), small dice
1 bunch chard leaves, sliced into ribbons (stems reserved for pickled chard stems)
1 clove garlic, peeled, speared on the tines of a fork
6 eggs, beaten with a fork
1 small bunch parsley, chopped
4 ounces semi-hard cheese, grated
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 10” skillet over medium heat; sauté onion until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add chard leaves; season with salt; cook until wilted, stirring with the garlic speared on a fork.
- Scrape chard/onion mixture into egg mixture; stir in parsley and cheese; season with salt and pepper.
- Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom and sides of the pan and heat over medium high heat. Add egg/chard mixture to the pan, turn down the heat, and cook until bottom is golden and the eggs start to set around the edges.
- Invert omelette onto a plate; add more olive oil to the pan; slide the omelette (cooked side up) back into the pan; continue cooking on low heat until the bottom is golden and the eggs are set around the edges but still soft and a little bit runny in the center.
- Serve hot or at room temperature, with a simple green salad and crusty bread.
Suggested drink pairing
Non-alcoholic: sparkling juice
Other dishes with this CSA
- Squash tart
- Red leaf lettuce salad
- We ate the incredibly sweet carrots raw. Holy brix!
- Grilled caraflex cabbage with bratwurst, fingerlings and pickled mustard seeds
- Bright pink beet risotto with beet greens
- Curly kale salad with grilled fennel
- Poppop’s bread and butter pickles