A Perfect Snowy Day Dinner – Mashed Potato, Portobello Mushrooms & Swiss Chard w/Goat Cheese

The word “casserole” conjures up images of canned cream of-fill-in-the-blank soup from my childhood.  I grew up in the Midwest, in a household that watched the price of milk and bought in bulk when it went on sale, which meant that we were no stranger to casseroles of the tuna variety and others.   While my food tastes have changed and so have my parents’ tastes, right along with their income, I still occasionally call home for a childhood recipe when I’m looking for a one-pot meal to satisfy my children and the child who still lives in me.

Simply put, while the name is old-fashioned, a casserole is just a one-pot meal with the protein starch and vegetable all in one dish.  Preferably with a crispy topping, please.  Casseroles from our past don’t have to include canned soup to be hearty, one-pot meals.  And they don’t have to be something only served for a weeknight dinner.  Served in individual bowls or large ramekins and topped with a garnish, you quickly turn an everyday meal into a simple meal fit for entertaining.

This is a wonderful comfort meal for a snowy, winter evening, with friends or just family.

Casserole of Mashed Potato, Portobello Mushrooms and Swiss Chard with Goat Cheese

For the mushrooms and Swiss chard:

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 Portobello mushrooms
1 bunch Swiss chard, coarsely chopped and cleaned well
1/2 teaspoon salt
several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

For the potatoes:
8 medium red potatoes, peeled and whole
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for the water

4 oz. goat cheese

For the mushrooms and Swiss chard:
Preheat oven to 400°.  Place the mushrooms and Swiss chard on a roasting pan and sprinkle with oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for 40-45 minutes.  The Swiss chard may be done before the mushrooms at about 30 minutes.  It’s done when it’s wilted and the stems are tender.  Remove the Swiss chard with tongs and transfer to a medium sized bowl.  Toss with balsamic vinegar.  Continue to cook the mushrooms until they begin to get darker on the edges.  When the mushrooms are done, let them cool briefly and then slice thinly into long strips.

For the potatoes:
Place the potatoes in a medium stockpot and cover with salted water.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork.  Drain the water; add the butter, milk and salt and whip with a hand mixer.

Reduce oven heat to 350°.  In four 2-cup oven proof bowls, layer the potatoes, mushrooms and Swiss chard, beginning and ending with the potatoes.  Sprinkle with goat cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges of the potatoes begin to brown.

Serves 4 (or 6 if you use smaller bowls)

CSA Abundance – Braised Chicken Breast with Bacon and Swiss Chard

Braised Chicken Breast with Bacon and Swiss Chard

We serve Swiss chard to our guests all summer long because it’s one of the staple vegetables that our CSA offers as it grows well in cold climates.  We’ve served it with lemon, balsamic vinegar, garlic, roasted garlic, roasted pine nuts and crumble feta cheese (not necessarily all at once!).  This is my favorite way of preparing it so far.  My husband, who eats green things mostly because they are good for him and not because he really has a love for them, had a third helping of this Swiss chard.

4 chicken breasts, bone in
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bunch of Swiss chard, chopped and cleaned, stems separate from the leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
3 strips bacon, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400º.  Heat a large skillet (one with a lid), over medium-high heat.  Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.  Heat the oil and carefully add the chicken breasts, skin side down.  Sear for 8 minutes or until the skin is a deep golden brown.  Turn and sear for another 8 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking on the second side, clear a space and add the bacon keeping it in one spot in the pan.  When it is done, transfer it out of the pan with a slotted spoon.  When the chicken is a golden brown on the second side, remove it from the pan.  Drain the pan of all the fat and return it to the heat.  Cook the garlic for 30 seconds to a minutes being careful not to burn it.  As soon as it’s done, add the Swiss chard stems to the pan to stop the garlic from cooking further.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes and then add the rest of the Swiss chard and the bacon.  Stir all together and return the chicken breasts to the pan.  Cover and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the chicken breasts are opaque throughout.

Serves 4