As a kid, there were things that counted as “being an adult.”
1. Drinking wine and enjoying it. Check.
2. Wearing footwear that clicks when you walk on linoleum or concrete. Check.
3. Being in charge sometimes. Check.
4. Sitting shotgun when there are more than 2 people in the car. Check.
5. Using a phrase involving the need to do or go to work. Check.
6. Being responsible for another being. Check.
7. Knowing who that famous person was who passed away, and getting the feeling you’re older than a large number of professional athletes/rock stars/actors. Check.
8. Understanding jokes. Sometimes?
9. Having the ability to read signs on the street. Check?
10. Knowing how to drive. Check.
11. Knowing how to drive a motorcycle. Hmph.
12. Growing a garden, and having plants that live and prosper. Check.
13. Throwing some things together and bam! Dinner is ready.
I’ve been desperate for tomato recipes ever since my plants decided to go into overdrive this past month. Seriously, September? I thought tomatoes were so last month.
Fortunately, I subscribe to forty-nine different food websites. Most of the time, I hardly have time to read these emails that fill my inbox and just click on the box to trash these emails. But a few weeks ago, I clicked on a Food & Wine email, and found a familiar, yet not so familiar recipe that included some common ingredients: bread, tomatoes, cheese, onions, and swiss chard.
The feeling we got from this dish was warm and comforting, like stuffing, except not so. The lightness and the tang of the fresh tomatoes keep it light and summery. But during these first few weeks of September, it seems like the days don’t know what they are. Cold in the morning, sometimes rainy, and midweek, it’s 90 and blazing humid hot. This is a recipe that captures that inconsistent start to the fall. If you have fresh tomatoes (freshly grown or farmers market), I highly recommend, as the flavor really shines through in this dish.
Adapted from Food & Wine
5 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, stemmed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced (I used a Walla Walla sweet onion that was huge)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 cup dry white wine (a $3 Chuck chardonnay worked for me)
Salt and black pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 pound artesian loaf, sliced 1/2 inch thick (I used a round french bread)
3 pounds fresh tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
3 cups shredded Swiss cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1. Cook the chard in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process and squeeze out the excess water. Chop coarsely.
2. In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and parsley, stirring occasionally until softened. Add the chard and the wine and simmer over medium-high heat until wine reduces to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small saucepan, bring stock to a simmer. Butter a 9X13 inch glass baking dish. Line the bottom with 1/3 of the great, ensuring the bread covers the entire bottom of the pan (bread can overlap). Top with half of the tomato slices, and season with salt and pepper. Spread half of the chard on top, then sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat the layering once and finish with the remaining bread. Pour the hot stock and any remaining wine juice over the casserole and press with a spatula. Brush the top with melted butter.
4. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the upper third of the oven for 1 hour. Uncover the dish and bake for 10 minutes longer, until the top is browned and crisp. Let the casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.