recipe

Credit: Photography by Earl Carter

Ruby chard galette

Annie Smithers is the owner and chef of du Fermier in Trentham, Victoria. Her latest book is Recipe for a Kinder Life. She is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

Credit: Photography by Earl Carter

There is something about this tart that reminds me of my secondary school days. Both in good and bad ways. One of the things I was most looking forward to in my transition from primary to secondary school was the notion of a school canteen. I always had a little cash in my pocket as I had a regular pamphlet delivery round, and I was really keen to splurge on forbidden treats such as meat pies and jam doughnuts. But to my absolute horror, my school had become an early adopter of the “healthy” tuckshop model. To say that I was disconsolate was an understatement. In truth, it was an amazing thing for my school to move towards, given this was in the late 1970s. We were offered “tasty” and nutritious offerings that were good for the brains of all those “gals” who went on to become leaders in medicine, law and business. And true to form, the budding cook among the group just wanted a Jiffy jam doughnut.

One of the offerings that was always available was a Hunza pie. It would be wrong of me to cast judgement on it, as in six long years I never bought one. All I knew about it was it was a ’60s- and ’70s-style hippie thing that was largely silverbeet and tasty cheese encased in a pretty utilitarian wholemeal pastry. There was nothing about it that appealed to my adolescent self.

Fast forward a good 30 years and I am off on a lovely tour of south-west France with the wonderful Kate Hill, an expat American who has called Gascony her home for 40 years. One of the recipes she pulled out to cook after a trip to a market and the purchase of a beautiful bunch of ruby chard was a chard galette, complete with wholemeal pastry. To quote Don Henley’s song, “A little voice inside my head said, ‘Don’t look back, you can never look back’ ” and I was able to dismiss thoughts of the Hunza pie and embrace Kate’s dish. To say I was surprised at its deliciousness would undervalue my new-found love of the combination of silverbeet and wholemeal pastry.

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of my last year of school. Many schools now have healthy tuckshops and I have grown to really enjoy a wholemeal pastry and silverbeet tart, but the treat of choice may still be a cheeky little jam doughnut, albeit a fancy one.

Ingredients

Time: 1 hour preparation + 30 minutes cooking

Serves 6

Pastry

  • 250g wholemeal plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 65g unsalted butter
  • 65g olive oil 
  • 1 egg and enough water to bind

Filling

  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • Swiss chard – one large bunch rainbow, ruby or plain
  • 500g fresh goat cheese
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp nutmeg 
  • olive oil, for brushing and sautéing
  • toasted pine nuts and currants (enough to sprinkle across the surface)
Method
  1. To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Chop the butter into cubes and rub it through with your fingertips or, if using a mixer, use the paddle attachment. Mix the olive oil and egg together with a splash of cold water. Combine with the flour mix until the dough comes together. Add a splash more water if the pastry seems too dry. Flatten into a disk, wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
  2. Roll out pastry into a flat square or rectangle and place on parchment on a baking tray. 
  3. Caramelise the onions by slow-cooking them in olive oil. Once softened, sprinkle with sugar and continue cooking until browned and sweet. Let cool.
  4. Trim the chard leaves from the stalks, keeping the stems aside. Wash and place the wet leaves in a hot dry pan to wilt slightly (about one minute on each side). Remove from the pan.
  5. Place a layer of the chard leaves over the pastry; it’s okay if they extend over edges.
  6. Mix the goat cheese, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg together and place in the centre of the chard. Spread out a two- to three-centimetre layer and form a square (about 30 centimetres) or rectangle. 
  7. Cover the surface of the goat cheese with the caramelised onions. 
  8. Fold the pastry and chard over the edges of the goat cheese. Brush the pastry and any exposed chard with olive oil.
  9. Bake in a hot oven at 200ºC for 30 minutes or until pastry is completely brown on the bottom. 
  10. While the galette is cooking, chop the chard stems into small pieces and sauté in a little olive oil over medium heat. Mix the stems, pine nuts and currants together and season.
  11. Let the galette cool and serve at room temperature, scattered with a little garnish mix.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on November 5, 2022 as "Chard in play".

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