The Hippo


Nov 21, 2019








Swiss Chard and Ricotta Cornmeal Crust Pizza

submitted by the Canterbury Farmers Market
1 bunch Swiss chard (about 12 ounces)
4 slices of bacon cut into ¾-inch squares
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup mozzarella cheese (grating optional)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
pizza dough
1 (1¼ ounce) package of active dry yeast
1½ cups warm water
2½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoon milk
1¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups cornmeal (stone ground)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine yeast with ½ cup warm water; stir with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Stir in one cup flour (mixture will become thick and stiff). Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about one hour.
Add milk, salt and one cup warm water. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with paddle attachment. With mixer on low, slowly add remaining flour and cornmeal. Mix into a soft dough. Change to a dough hook; knead 15 minutes until sticky.
Form dough into a ball. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours. Punch down dough, knead a few times and reshape into a ball. Return to bowl, cover and let sit until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Divided into four balls; reserve two for later use.
Using your hands, stretch a ball of dough into a disk; using a rolling pan, roll into a thin 10-inch circle. Transfer to a heavy baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Repeat with the other ball of dough.
Pizza topping:
Strip Swiss chard leaves from stems. Chop stems, tear leaves; set aside, separated. Place bacon in sauté pan; set over medium heat. Cook until fat has rendered and bacon just begins to brown, 8-10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Pour off all but a little fat from the pan; add garlic. Cook until golden, 2-3 minutes. Add Swiss chard stems. Cook 8-10 minutes, until softened. Add leaves and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 450 F; divide greens evenly between the two pizzas, leaving a ½-inch border. Crumble ricotta over the top. Sprinkle with parmesan, mozzarella and bacon. Bake until brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through cooking. Sprinkle with sea salt and red pepper flakes before serving.
Makes four 10-inch pizzas.

What do you do with Swiss chard?
Hint: ‘it really needs to be cooked’


It is one of the first crops of the season and also one of the last, but many consumers do not know what it is or what to do with it.
“A lot of people think Swiss chard is a cross between celery and spinach — I guess on appearance, maybe,” said Chris Lavalley, owner of Lavalley Farm Stand in Hooksett. The flavor of Swiss chard bears no similarities to that of spinach or celery, he added.
Swiss chard, though it is prepared in the same manner as spinach, does not make a good addition to a mixed green salad, Lavalley said. “It really needs to be cooked,” he said.
One bunch of Swiss chard would make a side dish for a family of four, Lavalley said.
“You can eat the whole thing. It’s not like beets when you throw the tops out, although some people do eat beet greens … some people think [the Swiss chard leaves] are the best part,” Lavalley said.
Being a frost-hardy plant, Swiss chard can be planted in mid-April and grow through October. Lavalley said it is usually ready to be picked in mid-May. He grows 1,000 feet of the leafy greens on his Pembroke farm.
“I think it should be a staple in everyone’s garden,” Lavalley said. “It doesn’t take up a lot of space and as soon as you want to plant it, you can.”
Swiss chard likes a lot of water and nitrogen (which is found naturally in soil but Lavalley adds more halfway through the season). The greens grow more slowly in cold weather than in warm and tend to get sweeter as they mature later in the season, Lavalley said.
Lavalley sells seeds for both Swiss and rainbow chard as well as Swiss chard plants during the season and noted the only  difference between Swiss chard and rainbow chard is the color of the stems — rainbow chard is distinguished by its vibrant colored stems. “We don’t like that fancy stuff out here,” Lavalley said of not growing rainbow chard. “We have a hard enough time with people wanting to buy Swiss chard — what if it were purple or red?”
Benjamin Knack, executive chef at Bedford Village Inn in Bedford, said Swiss chard adds an earthiness to a dish. He noted that he will often braise Swiss chard slowly with onions, shallots and a little garlic or sauté thin shreds of the greens. Knack said he will also sauté rainbow chard with shallots, garlic or lemon juice and fresh herbs to use as a colorful garnish.
Knack attributed the increase in the popularity of Swiss chard to consumers seeking healthier food choices. 
“Swiss chard is really high in antioxidants, which are great, and is low on the glycemic index,” he said.
As beets share some properties with Swiss chard, Knack likes to use the two in a dish together. “The flavor really works well,” he said.
Swiss chard and meat complement each other nicely, he said, adding that sometimes he will sauté both the steams and greens, then bake them with a little cream and parmesan cheese as a Southern-style side dish. The earthiness of the Swiss chard allows the greens to stand up on their own in a pasta dish, Knack added.

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