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Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2006 12:56 am

Spinach plan B begins with a C

Make Greek greens and sweet onion pie

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By the time you read this column, will the Escherichia coli spinach mystery involving 23 states be solved? Who knows? Regardless of the spinachy state of America, life must go on, and we gotta keep eating our vegetables.

Consider the spinach hiatus an opportunity; after all, it’s not the only big green name in town. Meet chard, a gorgeous ruffly green plant with stems in shades of fuchsia, yellow, and orange. When cooked, chard is like spinach’s culinary doppelganger; they look and taste nearly the same. Nutritionally, the two are close rivals. Like spinach, chard’s vitamin A and K content are off the charts, and a half-cup of cooked chard contains half the daily requirement of vitamin C.

After a whirl with the accompanying recipe, you may discover there’s no more time to shed tears for spinach.

Contact Kim O’Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com

Greek Greens and Sweet Onion Pie
from Ready When You Are by Martha Rose Shulman

Greek pie crust
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup water

In a bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking powder. Make a well in the center and add olive oil and water. Mix together with a fork. The dough should come together in a ball. Do not overmix.

Pour dough from bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead just until smooth, about one minute. Divide dough into halves. Press each half into a circle about 4 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 15 minutes.

When ready to bake, roll out one piece of dough onto a lightly floured surface and into a thin 12-inch round. Spray or brush 9- or 10-inch tart, pie or springform pan with olive oil. Line pan with dough.

Filling
2 to 2 1/2 pounds chard, stems removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
Two or three garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Three eggs, beaten
1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add greens and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook for two minutes or just until tender. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer greens to a bowl of cold water, then drain. Thoroughly squeeze excess water from the greens, then chop them.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add onions and garlic, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the greens and herbs long enough to coat them with oil, then remove the skillet from heat.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons of beaten egg for brushing the crust. Add feta and greens, mix well, and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the filling into the pan, covering the surface of the bottom dough layer. Roll out the second piece of dough and place it over the filling. Pinch the top and bottom dough edges together, crimping edges around the rim of the pie.

Brush the top with the reserved egg and, with a paring knife, make a few incisions on top to release steam. Bake the pie for 40 to 50 minutes, until the crust is golden, then let it cool slightly. Slice into wedges, warm or at room temperature.

Makes six servings.

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