Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Recipes for Swiss Chard Braised with Olives and Feta (Σέσκουλο με Ελιές και Φέτα) & Pancakes with Leftover Greens, Olives and Feta

Greens season is here. Gardens and farmers’ markets in Anchorage are filled with every type of cool weather green. Swiss chard, spinach, and kale are in their prime.

It’s also the season during which many Alaskans are doing hard duty out on the salmon grounds, making sure freezers are filled with fish for the upcoming winter.

The best reason to eat greens and salmon is they just plain taste good. Luckily, both are good for your health: greens because they’re high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and salmon because it’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids

Freshly caught salmon has so much flavor it doesn’t need anything more than salt, pepper, and a little time on the grill or cast-iron pan.  Swiss Chard Braised with Olives and Feta is a good accompaniment. The greens’ earthiness, when paired with salty olives and feta, balances fresh salmon’s richness.

Swiss Chard Braised with Olives and Feta (Σέσκουλο με Ελιές και Φέτα)
Serves 4
Any greens, wild or domesticated or, better yet, a mixture of greens, can be substituted for Swiss chard.  This is delicious made with plain Kalamata olives, but I prefer using Roasted Kalamata Olives. Dry-cured or salt-cured olives (such as those from Thassos) may be substituted, but be sure to taste them and use less than 1/2 cup if they’re strong flavored. Most Greeks squeeze a lemon wedge over braised greens; I like them better plain. Serve lemon wedges on the side so each eater can choose their own amount of lemon. Swiss Chard Braised with Olives and Feta goes well with grilled or pan-fried salmon and other simply cooked seafood.

2 large or 3 medium bunches Swiss chard (about 10-12 cups cleaned, chopped leaves)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Lemon wedges

Strip Swiss chard leaves from stems; reserve stems for another use.  Wash and roughly chop the leaves (don’t dry leaves; the clinging water helps cook them).

In a Dutch oven or deep sauté pan, sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 30 seconds, being very careful not to burn the garlic. Stir in Swiss chard, olives, a liberal seasoning of black pepper, and a light seasoning of salt (olives and feta also add salt). Cover, turn heat down to low, and cook until chard is tender, but not falling apart. (The dish may be made ahead to this point and reheated just before serving.)

Remove chard and olives from pan with slotted spoon. Put in serving bowl along with the feta. Toss well.  Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Bonus Recipe

Pancakes with Leftover Greens, Olives and Feta
Makes 4-6 pancakes
Too lazy to make crepes, I mixed leftover Swiss Chard Braised with Olives and Feta into a simple batter and cooked it into pancakes. These cakes contain the same flavors as crepes, but can be mixed and cooked in less than 1/2 hour with a lot less hassle.  I served the savory pancakes with soft goat cheese, basil shreds, and thinly sliced prosciutto; they made a lovely lunch.

3/4 - 1 cup leftover greens, olives, and feta
3/4 – 1 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
1 egg
Freshly ground black pepper
Oil for griddle

Put leftover greens in a strainer set over a bowl, press down to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Measure the liquid and add enough milk to make one cup.  Whisk egg and half the milk mixture into flour. Whisk in remaining milk mixture. Whisk in greens and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat small amount of oil in a griddle or cast iron frying pan over medium heat.  When pan is hot, ladle in 1/2 cup batter, spreading it out to form a 7” circle. Cook it on one side until it’s dry around the edges and the underside is nicely browned when lifted. Flip and cook on the second side.  Repeat until all the batter is used.

Serve plain, with cheese, or with thinly sliced prosciutto or salami.


Mediterranean kiwi said...

i add greens to an omeltte (no flour) - when teh greens are local fresh seasonal ones, they taste good everywhere

Cheryl said...

I like the first recipe but the bonus recipe is intriguing and definitely looks/sounds delicious. I have so many greens & I wouldn't have thought to put them in a pancake. Inspiring as always Laurie! :):)

Laurie Constantino said...

Maria, yep, I do omelettes all the time too, and they're great - I was just in the mood for something a little more -- bready, I guess. The pancake was particularly good with the prosciutto! Kind of like a little sandwich. I'm thinking if I made them smaller, it might be a good base for some kind of appetizer. The reality is, I just can't stand to see good leftovers go to waste. You spend so much time putting flavor into the initial dish, you hat to see that effort go into the garbage - better to use it as an ingredient in an new creation, that's what I say!

bellini valli said...

O would be eager to try either of these dishes Laurie. We use what we have on hand just as our pioneers did.

kalliope said...

We have been Swiss Charred out this summer from our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I didn't much care for it, but if it's in our basket this week... I'm pulling this recipe out to be sure!! Efharisto :)