To you chard, my loyal friend.
Once – through out my childhood and youth – I neglected you. I apologize, I deeply regret this! Today I know that I just didn’t know you that well, didn’t know you at all. I only met you in two ways: as a green-brown pulp that was said to ressemble creamed spinach (but did only vaguely, of course) and in form of thick thready stalks of indifferent taste that were hidden away in a pancakes. You were reduced to a substitute, not recognized as what you are. Poor neglected vegetable!
And this although already at first sight you are such a beauty in all your colourful variations. Yellow, orange pink, gradient shades of red that fade out like veins into your contrasty green leaves. Nature is an artist!
And then your intrinsic values: You are rich in vitamin A, K and E as well as different minerals. And this basically all around the year! And you are so open-minded: You are open for all kind of regional cuisines, Middle-Eastern, Asian, European,… you name it!
This new take on you my dear friend chard, I owe to another dear friend, Anna. She is a pro in all those heart-warming childhood dishes, but always curious to give them a special twist and make them also appeal to her little daughter – not always an easy job when it comes to healthy food.
And although I thought I knew you quite well, her recipe showed me you again in a totally new light! The key to this new experience: caramelized sugar and orange that build the base of this sweet-sour, fruity chard-tomato-stew that is eaten in/on top of thin crêpes, topped with salty feta cheese and pine nuts. – Another facet revealed.
Crêpes with chard à la Anna (4-6 crêpes)
2 eggs, 200 ml milk, 100 g (whole grain) flour, 1 tablespoon oil (+ more for baking crêpes), pinch of salt
1 chard, 1 tablespoon sugar, zest of ½ orange, juice of 1 orange, 1 can tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste
50-100 g feta cheese, 1-2 tablespoons pine nuts
For the crêpes batter, whisk together eggs and milk. While whisking, add flour step by step. Add oil and a pinch of salt and set aside for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare vegetable: Wash chard and cut leaves and stems into thin stripes. In a medium saucepan, heat sugar until it has turned into caramel. Deglaze with orange juice and canned tomatoes (only tomatoes, not juice). Roughly break them with your cooking spoon. Add orange zest as well, also chard. Simmer at low heat without lid for about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat a pan until hot. Don’t add fat, but roast pine nuts dry until they’ve browned and you can smell their nutty flavour. Set aside.
Bake crêpes: Heat pan until really hot and add a bit of oil. Holding the pan above the stove, pour a small laddle of batter (about 2-3 tablespoons) into the pan. Tilt and swirl the pan until the batter is evenly distributed. Set back on the stove and bake about 1 minute from each side.
Serve crêpes with chard-tomatoe-stew and top with crumbled feta and roasted pine nuts.