On a recent visit to my youngest son and his wife, I had a simple dinner at their home that I haven’t been able to forget.
As I said, it was simple: a chard and potato-filled omelette and a baby greens salad dressed with a fresh lemon vinaigrette. Pretty basic, no?
But the omelette … the omelette! Fluffy, flavorful and pretty, it was unlike anything I’d ever had. Truth be told, I didn’t want to finish eating it and lingered over each bite, hoping against hope that there was more than what was on my plate. (There wasn’t. Sigh.)
At the end of the meal we all sat back, content and satisfied. I asked Nina how she’d made this stupendously delicious dinner. What made the omelette so cottony-light, so tender in the mouth, so unforgettable? An accomplished cook and forager, she smiled and plucked a cookbook off a nearby shelf. Here, she said.
Our omelettes had looked exactly like the picture in Plenty, the vibrant vegetable cookbook by London’s Yotam Ottolenghi that she’d handed me. Filled with the springtime flavors of chard and fresh herbs, now – before the summer heat really hits – is the time to make this.
Substitute baby spinach leaves for the chard if you want, and mix-and-match the herbs as you like. I encourage you to take the little bit of extra time necessary to follow the steps to the T; you’ll be glad – so glad! – you did.
Chard & Saffron Omelette
Keep an eye on the potatoes; you want them soft but not falling apart.
- ½ lb. small new potatoes, peeled and diced small
- 1 cup water
- ¾ lb. Swiss chard (stalks & leaves), cut into fine threads
- Salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 5 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2/3 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, mint, tarragon, basil, dill)
- Vegetable or olive oil
- ½ cup crème fraiche or crema
- Optional: pinch saffron threads
Put potatoes, water and saffron, if using, in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer 4 minutes, then add chard and some salt and pepper. Cook, covered, for about 6-10 minutes or till potatoes are soft but still a little firm. Drain, gently stir in lemon juice and garlic and set aside.
Whisk together eggs, milk, herbs and some salt and pepper. Pour about 1 tsp. oil into a hot 9-inch, non-stick frying pan, then use ¼ of the egg mixture to make a thin round omelette. Cook, without flipping, just a few minutes, till set but not hard. Transfer to paper towel to cool. Make 3 more in the same way.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Spread crema or crème fraiche over half of each omelette. Taste chard mixture, adjust seasonings if necessary, then spread generously over the crema. Fold each omelette in half, then fold again to make a fan shape. (Let chard filling show at the open side for a prettier presentation.) Arrange omelettes on a lightly oiled baking sheet or ovenproof dish. Bake for 5-8 minutes or until hot. Serve at once. Makes 4.
Bucatini with Swiss Chard & Garlicky Breadcrumbs
The garlicky breadcrumbs can be made a day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature and try not to eat them all! Bucatini is a thick spaghetti with a hole in the center; you can use any spaghetti, though.
- 5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- Salt and pepper
- 12 oz. bucatini or spaghetti
- 5 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped OR 1 small salmon filet
- 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely torn (about 5 cups)
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- Finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino (for serving)
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl with a slotted spoon. Add panko to same skillet and cook in the same oil, stirring often, until golden, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl with the garlic and mix gently.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain, reserving 1½ cups of the water.
Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook anchovies, mashing with a wooden spoon, about 4 minutes. (If using salmon, sauté 3-5 minutes till cooked through and then chop into chunks or flakes.) Add chile and chard; cook, stirring, until chard is slightly wilted, about a minute.
Add butter, pasta and ½ cup pasta water to chard mixture and cook, tossing often with tongs and adding more pasta water if sauce looks dry, until sauce emulsifies and coats pasta. Remove from heat. Stir in mint, lemon zest and lemon juice. Divide pasta among bowls. Drizzle with olive oil; top with garlicky breadcrumbs, Parmesan or Pecorino and serve immediately. –bonapetit.com
Janet Blaser of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, has been a writer, editor and storyteller her entire life and feels fortunate to write about great food, amazing places, fascinating people and unique events. Her work has appeared in numerous travel and expat publications as well as newspapers and magazines. Her first book, Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats, is available on Amazon. Contact Janet or read her blog at whyweleftamerica.com.