Pasta with Savoy Cabbage
You may be familiar with Spanakopita, the Greek spinach pie; this dish is very similar. I prefer a sturdier green like chard to spinach, because it retains its dark green color and fresh flavor better when cooked for a long time in the phyllo dough.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, preferably a combination of dill and parsley, or 1 teaspoon each dried thyme and oregano
3 large eggs, beaten
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Freshly ground pepper
12 sheets phyllo pastry plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or 2 tablespoons each melted butter and extra-virgin olive oil, combined, for brushing
1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil while you stem and wash the greens. Wash them in 2 changes of water, lifting them from the water so that the dirt stays behind. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, add the chard and blanch for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon or a skimmer, transfer to the ice water. Let sit just until cool, a few minutes, then drain and squeeze out excess water by taking up bunches of the greens, making a fist around them and squeezing. Chop coarsely and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Oil or butter a 10-inch tart or cake pan (I like to use a ceramic dish for this). Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds to a minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Stir in the greens, herbs, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and stir the mixture for a minute, until the greens are coated with oil. Remove from the heat.
3. Beat the eggs in a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Crumble or blend in the feta. Stir in the greens, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Line the pie dish with 7 pieces of phyllo, lightly brushing each piece with butter or oil and turning the dish after each addition so that the edges of the phyllo drape evenly over the pan. Fill with the greens mixture. If using phyllo, fold the draped edges in over the filling, lightly brushing the folded in sheets of phyllo ,then layer the remaining 5 pieces on top, brushing each piece with butter or olive oil. Stuff the edges into the sides of the pan. Brush the top with the butter or oil, and make a few slashes so that steam can escape as the pie bakes.
5. Bake 40 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is golden. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature.
Yield: Serves 6
Advance preparation: The blanched greens will keep in the refrigerator in a covered bowl for 3 or 4 days. The dish can be prepared through Step 2 up to a day ahead. Keep the cooked greens in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. You can assemble the pie several hours before baking and keep it in the refrigerator, or freezer. Transfer directly from the freezer to the preheated oven, and increase the baking time by about 10 minutes. The finished tart keeps for a few days, but you must re-crisp the phyllo in a low oven (300º to 325ºF) for 10 to 20 minutes.
This comforting stew makes a hearty meal when served with a salad and crusty bread.
1 cup dried white beans, soaked for 6 hours or overnight in 1 quart water
A bouquet garni made with 1 bay leaf, a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, and a Parmesan rind, tied together with kitchen string
1 generous bunch red chard (3/4 to 1 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), sliced
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
1. Drain the beans and combine with 1 quart of fresh water in a casserole or Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer. Skim off any foam, then add the bouquet garni. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour. Add 1 teaspoon salt.
2. Meanwhile, stem and clean the red chard leaves in 2 changes of water. Rinse the stems and dice. Set aside. Cut the leaves in ribbons, or coarsely chop, and set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the onion and chard stems. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the potatoes and stir together, then transfer to the pot with the beans. Bring back to a simmer, cover and simmer 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and beans are tender. Salt to taste.
4. Add the chard and thyme leaves to the pot, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. The chard should be very tender. Stir in freshly ground pepper to taste and the parsley. Taste, adjust seasonings and serve, passing the Parmesan to sprinkle on the top.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
Advance preparation: The dish will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator. If you are making it ahead, make it through Step 3 and proceed with Step 4 shortly before serving, so that the color of the chard doesn’t fade too much.