Chard

IMG_8652I love breakfast. For that reason, I’ll never make a perfect Catalan. I don’t love fuet. I’m not a fan of a morning sandwich, except for the kind you find at the delis in New York. I will admit to gobbling down a half a loaf of pa amb tomaquet–that famous Catalan breakfast (or anytime) item made by spreading tomato pulp, olive oil, and salt on a soft loaf of good breadbefore snowboarding or when the cupboards are growing bare, but I’ll never love it like I love a good savory egg dish. This morning, I collected a variety of foods in the refrigerator that needed immediate attention: the swiss chard that was supposed to become the side dish to a Chinese fish dish, several slightly wrinkled cherry tomatoes, half a forlorn onion. Out of desperation and hunger, It became this.

Swiss Chard Strata

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Here, we often use what are called cintas in place of normal bacon. They are small, pre-sliced pieces of pancetta that are smoky and perfect for an egg dish like this one. You can use pancetta, ham, or even American-style bacon as a substitute, if need be. Everything else should be easily accessible in your local market.I used a brand of olive oil called Pons from Lleida, flavored with rosemary, that lends a subtle undercurrent of flavor to the dish. Plain olive oil would work just as well.

  • 4 eggs
  • 3 leaves swiss chard, de-ribbed and chopped
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pancetta, chopped
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, dried or fresh
  • 1/2 mature cheddar cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 3 slices bread, cubed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons rosemary olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a pan add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, butter, salt, and garlic over medium heat. When the butter is melted and the garlic fragrant, add the bread cubes. Cook over medium, stirring regularly to prevent from burning. When golden brown, remove them from the heat, remove the garlic cloves, and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the rest of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and thyme and cook until translucent. Add the pancetta, and cook for two minutes or so. Add the swiss chard and the cherry tomatoes and cook until wilted. Reduce heat to low and cook until the onions become slightly caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a bowl, add the eggs and milk and whisk well until pale yellow and fully incorporated. Add the cheese and stir. When the vegetable mixture is cool, add to the eggs and combine well.

In a glass baking dish, add the croutons, evenly distributing them. Pour the egg mixture over the top and bake for 15-20 minutes until the eggs are thoroughly cooked.

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