I love Swiss chard. There I’ve said it. It has to be my “go-to veg” when sowing at the allotment, if there is a space it’s filled with chard. As a plant, it’s hardy and forgiving, and just keeps on going. Added to this, it has a beautiful form and, if you sow rainbow chard as I do, the colours are so vibrant. I remember being blown away by the chard at the Eden Project; they’d got it growing in rows like a bedding plant, and it was so beautiful. Swiss chard is also a great vegetable to eat; we just don’t eat enough of it in this country. In Italy, its appreciated more and both the leaves and the stalks are cooked extensively.
With a limited amount to harvest at the plot, Swiss chard has appeared regularly on the table (often in the form of a chard pilaf). The other day though we had some stilton leftover from something, so I combined the two ingredients in a little tart. Blue cheese has a natural affinity with chard; the iron rich leaves complimenting the twang of the cheese. Combined with the creamy blanket of the egg custard, it makes a delicious tart.
You will need (makes 4 small tarts)
250g Swiss chard, washed and stems stripped from the leaves
150g Stilton (or any other strong blue cheese) chopped into small dice
2 egg yolks
350ml double cream
salt and pepper
For the shortcrust pastry
250g wholemeal flour
125g unsalted butter
A pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
30ml (approximately) milk
Start by making the pastry (it needs time in the fridge to rest before being rolled out). Put the walnuts in a food processor and whizz until a fine powder. Add the flour, salt and butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, then (with the food processor going) slowly pour in the milk until the dough starts to come together. Remove from the bowl and knead a little before wrapping in cling-film and chilling for at least half an hour.
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface; you want it pretty thin to help get a crisp finish. Use pastry to line four 10cm deep tart cases, line with greaseproof paper and baking beans, and place in a preheated oven at 170°C. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven, remove the beans and paper, and lightly prick the base; before returning to the oven for a few more minutes until the base is dry but not too coloured. Increase the oven temperature to 180°C.
Blanch the chard in boiling water, drain, chop lightly and leave to one side to cool a little. Once cool, divide the chard between the four tart cases, topping each with a quarter of the cheese. Put the eggs, egg yolks, cream and salt and pepper in a jug and beat until smooth. Pour the custard over the filling of the tarts and bake in an oven for half an hour, or until they are slightly browned on top, but still have a slight wobble to them. Remove from the oven and serve warm (or indeed cold if you can wait that long).