If you are sick of chard recipes, I really do appoligize. But I love it so much and I can't resist it's shamrock leafiness.
In our house, vegetarian night is always met with great suspicion. "What is she going to feed me"? "Will I like it"? "Will I feel full"? "Will the meat police come while I sleep and haul me away for skipping a night"? Yet we always have a happy ending.
This night was no different. Suspicion. Doubt. Dread. Tiny bite. Slight smile. Bigger bite. Bigger smile. Then the words "This is good"!
Yes, I knew it would be.
There is a bit of prep work involved with this, so you may want to save it for when you have the time to relax, pour yourself a glass of wine, crank up some Motown and enjoy yourself.
And just know that after step one, your hands will carry the lovely scent of garlic with them for the rest of the evening. It is aromatic heaven!
Reason #7 to buy local:
The open landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive about preserving the agricultural landscape.
Strata With Mushrooms and Chard (Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman)
1/2 lb stale bread, sliced about 3/4 to 1 inch thick
3/4 oz dried mushrooms
8 oz Swiss chard, stemmed and cleaned
2 garlic cloves, 1 cut in half, the other minced
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
2 oz Gruyère cheese, grated (1/2 cup, tightly packed)
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 cup, tightly packed)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 large eggs
If you plan ahead, buy a baguette, slice and leave it exposed over night. This will help it become stale and make it easier to work with. If it is soft, toast the slices then rub each, front and back, with the cut clove of garlic. If the bread is soft, toast it lightly and rub each slice front and back with the cut clove of garlic. Cut in 1-inch dice. Place in a very large bowl, and toss with 2/3 cup of the milk. Set aside.
Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl or a Pyrex measuring cup, and cover with 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Set a strainer over a bowl, line with cheesecloth, a coffee filter or paper towels, and drain the mushrooms. Squeeze the mushrooms over the strainer to extract all of the broth. Rinse, away from the strainer, in several changes of water to wash off sand. Squeeze out excess water. Chop coarsely. Measure out 1 cup of the mushroom broth, and combine with the remaining milk.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil or butter a 2-quart baking dish or gratin. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the chard. Stir until the leaves begin to wilt in the liquid left on them after washing.
Cover the pan, and let the chard steam until it has completely collapsed, about two minutes. Uncover and stir. When all of the chard has wilted, remove from the pan and rinse briefly with cold water. Press or squeeze out
excess liquid. Chop coarsely and set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan, turn the heat down to medium and add the minced garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds, and stir in the reconstituted mushrooms, the rosemary and the chard. Stir together for a couple of minutes, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, and transfer to the bowl with the bread cubes. Add the cheeses, and toss together. Arrange in the baking dish.
Beat together the eggs in a medium bowl. Add salt to taste, the remaining milk and the mushroom broth. Add a few twists of the peppermill and pour over the bread. Press the bread down into the custard mixture. Sprinkle a little Parmesan over the top. Place in the oven, and bake 40 to 50 minutes, until puffed and browned. Remove from the oven, and serve hot or warm.
NOTE: This can be assembled through step 4 hours or even a couple of days before you beat together the eggs and milk and complete the casserole