I’ll tell you how I spent my CSAcation this week: rolling my eyes, slurping up delicious, salty Swiss chard greens, smothered in melted Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and repeating a mantra of, “Holy crap, this is awesome!”
One of the pitfalls of working from home is that around midday, when it’s time for lunch, I tend to waste a lot of time cooking something time-consuming in the name of blogging. Blogging is writing and therefore work, so it’s not technically procrastination. Except for when it is. Like at lunch time.
In this week’s CSA bag, I brought home a beautiful bunch of leafy green Swiss chard. I really like Swiss chard; I’ve sauteed it with garlic, salt, and pepper, and I’ve made lasagna out of it, which was lovely. It’s a robust green, bright when cooked, and cooks up a lot like spinach in that it releases its juices and wilts nicely.
I wanted to eat something relatively healthy for lunch today. Partly because today in class, I led my students in a compare/contrast exercise involving eating two different doughnuts. And partly because I have dinner reservations at Stove in Portsmouth, which, if you’re from around these parts, you know means Neo-Southern cuisine that is sure to be fried, porky, cheesy, salty – some mixture of any or all of these elements. So might as well get some veggies now before it’s too late and I’m taking Alka-Seltzer and regretting my dinner and vowing to eat more vegetables and less cheese.
I have actually been eating a lot more vegetables lately because it’s summer time and for whatever reason, this time of year, I crave fruits and vegetables. But when I need something more substantial, rather than seeking out protein, I end up eating bread. Bread, bread, and more bread. English muffins, homemade cinnamon swirl bread, bagels – you name it. And that’s not bad, in moderation. But let’s be clear: when it comes to bread, there is no moderation.
So this afternoon, when I got hungry, I went to the fridge, and I saw cherry tomatoes, and Swiss chard, and eggs. And I thought, surely, someone out there has something I can make with these. And I was right. Whole Foods has a recipe on their website for Parmigiano Reggiano Baked Eggs with Swiss Chard. Boom. Perfect.
I downsized the recipe to be a single serving rather than the four that it usually serves. I used cherry tomatoes, chopped up, rather than seeded whole tomatoes. And I added prosciutto (because, I mean, it’s prosciutto – it only makes everything better). I also used a bit more cheese than the recipe probably called for because I love cheese. A lot.
Baked Eggs with Prosciutto and Swiss Chard
About two cups of torn Swiss chard leaves, rinsed and thoroughly dried
6 cherry tomatoes, halved and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 slice prosciutto, cut into pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Thoroughly butter a clean ramekin or individual-sized casserole dish.
2. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook one minute or until fragrant. Add chard and saute two minutes, until just wilted. Add a little (seriously, and this is me talking, just a little) salt and pepper – the prosciutto and cheese will lend it plenty of saltiness.
[Here’s the deal: my casserole came out very watery. I didn’t do this on this go round, but next time, I intend to drain my chard at this point, perhaps even pressing it a little with a paper towel. Remember, it’s like spinach: it releases its juices, which equals a watery casserole.]
3. After thoroughly draining the chard so your casserole doesn’t end up all watery in the bottom, return it to the pan, turn off the heat, and add about half of your Parmigiano Reggiano and half of the chopped tomatoes. Stir to combine, and then spoon the mixture into your buttered ramekin.
4. Crack egg into ramekin. Salt and pepper, again, with a light hand. Add the strips of prosciutto, the tomatoes, and the rest of the cheese.
5. Set ramekin on baking sheet and slide into oven. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until the egg whites are set. (Some people are okay with runny egg whites. I’m not one of those people. I need those babies set and firm or I’ll get grossed out and I won’t eat it. So fifteen minutes worked for me.)
6. Transfer ramekin to a plate and let cool for 2-3 minutes before eating so cheese and egg can set.
Sometimes, when I cook things, it’s okay. Like, it’s vegetables, and they’re good and fresh and healthy and I feel good about that. But then, sometimes, I cook something, and I feel I need to run to my balcony, calling out, “People of Ghent, listen to me! I had a delicious lunch! I made it myself! From fresh, locally-sourced produce that I got through my CSA! And it was amazing!” I like to imagine myself like Madonna in Evita, but not singing. Not yet.
This lunch was like that. The prosciutto and cheese lent the dish a robust saltiness, and the greens were wilted, soft, but not mushy. The tomatoes were tender and tangy. And the egg, when I broke the yolk, was creamy, buttery, and served as the perfect companion to the greens. All in all, this CSAcation was a major success.