Almond Chard Loaf

Yeah, I know. I’ve heard all the jokes: “What happened? Did’ja BURN it?” Ha! So funny….

I started growing Swiss Chard year before last, for the same reason I do a lot of things; I like to experiment, just to see what will happen.

Last year we were in a drought. In addition, I made a couple of mistakes: 1) I went by some book and started them early then tried to transplant them. 2) I got the young plants in late because we were in the process of, well, earthworks as we are calling it in shorthand.

No chard, no happy.

This year we were pleased with the abundance of rain. The garden was planned in advance (believe it or not) and all those seeds I threw out there, thinking I would get a few little plants, were more than tickled to overwhelm me with chard. Lots and lots of chard. Did I mention LOTS of chard?

Well, I’d never even cooked chard before. Now what?

So I found out via the magic of the internet, that chard could be used much like spinach.

I like spinach, the Mister likes spinach. It’s all good. So I sautéed a batch in some garlic and butter and it was quite tasty. And a couple of days later with chard backing up in the fridge, I sautéed some more; finding that  a dab of sesame oil, a little tamari and some pork fat works as well as butter. And I’m positive olive oil would compliment the naturally creamy mouth-feel and buttery flavor of young chard just fine.

However tasty the sautéed chard was, it was not working to reduce the backlog of colorful greens that was now threatening to blot out the ability to see any other foodstuff in the fridge. So I canned what I had on-hand and what I could cull from the garden. 10 pints. Which in greens world, with the de-stalking and the shrinking and all, starts out, literally, as a bathtub full of greens. As I looked out to the garden, the teeming mass of remaining chard sat there; leafy arms crossed, mocking me in its beautiful, lush fullness.

Back to the internet for a recipe that wasn’t sautéed chard. The Lazy Cook does not like eating the same dish over and over. The Mister, while he truly appreciates my rather adventurous culinary explorations, really could eat breakfast cereal for every meal.

So I found a recipe for Swiss Chard Nut Loaf. Alright, now we’re talking. Nuts are a household staple.

The recipe needed adjusting. With Celiac’s, there’d be no breadcrumbs for us. 2 day old millet worked just fine. Leave out the wheat germ. And since I’ve never had wheat germ, I don’t know what that adds in terms of flavor. And oh, my god, who would actually use catsup in a recipe? Ugh.

Now, I’m not a food snob. Honest. I’ll gladly eat greasy fries and catsup with the best of them. But the only catsup we have in the house is actually the junk food foil packs and there was no way I was going to squeeze out every pack in the house and maybe get enough for the recipe. Homemade pasta sauce instead.

So, here’s a workable result after a little tinkering and a couple of moderately successful tries.

½ lb of Swiss chard.

1 medium onion, chopped. I like Vidalias, but any type will do

1 clove of minced garlic

2 cups of ground almonds or walnuts. We had almonds on hand. The walnuts would be tasty too. Pecans would be a little rich, but broken pieces could add a nice flavor.

1 cup of pre-cooked grain 2 day old +/- (i.e. millet, brown or white rice, barley)

2 eggs

2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried

1 tblsp wheat-free tamari

1 tsp dried oregano

A palmful of black or kalamata olives, pitted and broken up into pieces. Yes, canned will do, but the flavor is not as good.

1 cup of pasta sauce divided in half

Cracked pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.

Some recipes call for de-stalking the chard. For this recipe, no way.  I’m too lazy. Chop it all up, steam it down for about 5 minutes and sauté it in a little oil with the onion and garlic.

Mix together the ground almonds, grain of choice, eggs, greens onions, garlic, olive pieces, spices and half the pasta sauce.

Pack it into a greased 9 inch loaf pan. Top with the remaining sauce, sprinkle with fresh cracked black peppercorns and if you are feeling froggy, add a couple sliced pitted olives for presentation.

Bake for 30 minutes

This is very tasty while it’s warm and, according to the Mister, just as tasty cold. It’s good with a fresh salad or green peas.

The standing Wednesday Lunch Companions offer these very appropriate additions: sautéed mushrooms mixed in and/or bacon crumbled on top; which would, indeed, be tasty. If those were on the list of things I ate….which they generally are not. But the Lazy Cook always encourages experimentation.

Just be cautious how much chard you decide to plant.

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