I know I don’t make a whole lot of vegetable-heavy meals here, and it is something I want to try to do more often, but I’ll be honest, I usually find myself hitting a brick wall when it comes to being creative with vegetables. I know there’s so many ways to enjoy and prepare them, but for some reason I have a difficult time coming up with any of them myself. And on top of that, I’ve noticed that I somehow always manage to incorporate something decidedly unhealthy into the healthy, vegetable-based meal I am trying to create. Like the time I tried to make a salad and ended up putting bacon drippings on it(it was basically a BLAT without the bread, and it was delicious). So when McCormick approached me about participating in another ingredient challenge for April’sGo 4 Gourmet and I heard that the first ingredient was leafy greens, I was a little nervous because, aside from spanikopita and beet greens, my experience with salads and the like is fairly limited. But agreeing to the challenge would provide me with the motivation I needed to experiment in the field of vegetables, so I accepted to basically force myself to be a better vegetable-maker.
I began by conducting some research (and by that I mean I wandered around the produce section of my supermarket googling every frilly green thing I saw), and in the midst of my mental frenzy, a bushel of large, vibrant leaves caught my eye. It was chard, the rainbow variety of which comes with wonderfully saturated stems in a variety of colors. The hues are so vivid and bright that it almost looks as though someone injected ink into them (but I purchased an organic variety so I’m fairly certain that was not the case). Their flavor is slightly bitter, much like spinach, and after reading about their preparation methods, I saw that they took well to sautéing, so I decided to do just that.
But after jumping that hurdle, I still had to figure out how to incorporate the rest of the required ingredients; ricotta, marjoram, and panko breadcrumbs. I thought about sprinkling the cheese over the top, but then I thought about the texture of having to sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the sautéed greens, too, and had to veto that idea immediately. And then a memory popped into my head, a memory of a goat cheese salad I’d had many, many years ago. It was, and still is, the best salad I’ve ever had. It was very simple, just mixed greens and a light dressing, but what made it wonderful was the little fried goat cheese medallions on top of it that were still hot and gooey and melty inside, but wonderfully crisp on the outside. And that’s when I realized I needed to fry up some cheese.
I made the ricotta medallions with some egg, marjoram, and other seasonings, and then served them on top of the sautéed chard. The medallions brought a wonderful crunch to the soft sautéed greens, and the acidity of the chard complimented the creamy ricotta and mildy sweet marjoram perfectly. It’s an easy dish to throw together, and if you use low-fat ricotta and olive oil for the pan-frying, it’s very healthy, too. I’ll definitely be using chard again in the near future, its depth of flavor and incredible beauty has left me feeling very inspired. Perhaps there will be a chard quiche in the near future…