When you wish upon a (shooting) chard…your dreams. Come.True.
Well…maybe that line’s a bit of a Rogue One…but you’ll atleast have a great lunchbox meal for your kids to crave about!
Chard first landed on my plate during a banquet session with Charlie and Charlie: our dynamic-vegetarian-duo friends in Oxfordshire. Bunkered down in their cosy kitchen, we savoured the buttery chard bake (and many other equally exquisite delights) and drank our fill of accompanying French reds to ward off the final days of the English winter chill. The following week, keen to elicit the crème de’ la crop repast, I prepped the long, thin red stems that arrived in our eclectic veg box for their launch into our rapidly evolving dinner repertoire. I guess things might have turned out a little more sweetly if I had noted the absence of the nutritious green leafy part of the plant and made a rhubarb pie instead.
Last week, after a delectable forage through a friends going-to-seed brassica patch, I was inspired to turn my own high-on-early-spring-hormone vegetables into a stellar pesto to go atop our homemade Fasta Pasta Friday meal. At a flashing pace, K1 suggested applying his universe-sized knowledge about all things night sky to keep the left over pesto dream alive (and thus preventing this fleeting catch from disappearing into Scott’s bottomless black hole).
Curled up in a blanket of milky white pizza dough, the Pesto Galaxies have proved a great way to give my little fire-balls that extra boost of energy to see them through the tail end of the school day.
Chard Pesto (makes ¾ – 1 cup)
3 cups fresh chard (spinach or silverbeet or all three) shoots, finely chopped
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
2 tbs Mediterranean herbs (rosemary, garlic chives, oregano etc.), finely chopped
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup Parmesan, shaved
3 garlic cloves or spring onion ends (the white part), finely chopped
3 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and puree’. Add more oil if you wish for a more runny consistency. Serve atop your best bowl of freshly cooked pasta and store leftovers (…if you happen to have any) in a glass jar in the fridge.
Pesto Galaxies (makes 15 or so)
4 cups plain flour
2 tsp instant dried yeast
1 tsp salt
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups warm water
Mix all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. In the middle of the flour add the oil and the water. Combine until a sticky dough consistency is formed (add more water if too dry). Form the dough into a large ball and knead for 10 minutes or until elastic in texture. Line the base of the mixing bowl with a little oil. Place the dough into the mixing bowl and smooth on top with a little more oil. Cover with a damp tea towel or plate and leave rise in a warm place for 1 hour (or until doubled in volume).
Cheddar cheese, grated
Punch down the pizza dough and divide in half. On a floured surface, roll one half of the dough into a rectangle (approximately 30 cm x 20 cm). Leaving a 2 cm border at each long edge of the dough, cover the base with a thick layer of pesto. Sprinkle on some cheese.
Using a pastry brush (or just your fingers), moisten the bare dough at the border on each side of the pesto. This helps to stick the dough together. Starting from one of the border ends, roll the dough into a tight roll. Seal tightly at the other end by smoothing the dough together.
Cut the dough into 1” (2.5 cm) scrolls and place on a buttered and floured tray. Squash down the spirals using your fingers. Cover the tray with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Bake in a moderate oven for 10 – 15 minutes. When cool, rocket launch them into your childs lunch box (and freeze the rest).