Little Locavores Recipe: Chard Cheese Pie

Somewhere under the rainbow, a colorful stalk lures eaters who balk

Rainbow chard's multicolored tones are a distinct advantage over mono-colored vegetables for eye-catching kid appeal. The yellow, orange and red stems and dark green leaves are as bright and colorful as any candy and might just pique the interest of those who travel at eye-level with the farmers' market tables. Once the colors nab their attention, there's plenty to share about this leafy green to encourage them to want to eat it.

For instance, both the stem and leaf are edible, so their plates will be just as colorful as the bunch of raw chard. The stems just need to be cooked about twice as long as the leaves to become tender enough to eat.

Rainbow chard is considered a spring vegetable because it grows best in cool, moist conditions, but it is adaptable enough to grow all summer long and into fall. It can also get fleas - or almost. Kristen Kordet, who grows rainbow chard and other produce at Blue Moon Community Farm, explains that when temperatures get too hot for too long, flea beetles might attack the leaves. Flea beetles are little insects that hop from leaf to leaf, chewing holes and making it harder for the chard to grow.

Chard can be cooked much like spinach and substituted for spinach in many recipes. Steam or sauté it to make it tender; smaller leaves and stems will be more tender than larger bunches. Another way to tempt young eaters is in this easy cheese pie.

Recipe: Chard Cheese Pie

Serves 4-6

2 cups cottage cheese

2 eggs, beaten

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 cups lightly cooked chopped chard, well drained*

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; generously grease an 8-by-8-inch baking dish. Beat together the cottage cheese, eggs, lemon and salt. Stir 1 cup of this mixture into the chard and press it into a baking dish. Spread remaining cottage cheese mixture over the top and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and paprika. Bake until set, about 1/2 hour. Let stand several minutes before cutting into squares.

Recipe is from The New Laurel's Kitchen by Laurel Robertson

*Sauté the stems in a small amount of olive oil for 8-10 minutes and leaves for 4-6 minutes; after it cools, squeeze with your hands or in a colander to release excess water before adding it to the cheese mixture.

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