I recently added a new egg dish to my repertoire when I discovered pounti in Clifford A. Wright’s book Bake Until Bubbly.
He refers to this revelation from the Auvergne region of France as a vegetable flan, which immediately caught my attention because it suggested some sort of quiche—without the crust. But that was only the beginning.
In his version, chard and onion are pureed with a little pork—such as prosciutto; it’s all bound together with eggs, milk (or cream) and flour, then it’s baked in a small casserole. More traditional versions of pounti tend to feature substantial amounts of pork and/or other meats mixed into a melange similar to a meatloaf, then interspersed with a few prunes and baked.
Although I was attracted to Wright’s lighter version, I wasn’t prepared for the mysterious alchemy that takes place. The smidgen of well-minced pork combined with the thick vegetable custard introduces a gentle pate quality that elevates this terrine into something extraordinary. It does not require garlic or an herb blend either; it stands on its own merit. I opted to add a bit more contrast by studding the mixture with garlic sautéed mushrooms— rather than the popular prunes.
A miserly two ounce portion of prosciutto provided enough richness and flavor to meld with the chard-custard and unleash a mysterious sexiness that left me lurching for more.
I liked Wright’s suggestion to lightly sauté leftover slices in butter. When beautifully browned they are a symbiotic match with plump garlic sausage—along with a dollop of whole-grained mustard and perhaps a green salad.
This will surely give them something to talk about.
Chard and Prosciutto Terrine
Inspired by Clifford A. Wright’s pounti in Bake Until Bubbly
This is not just ‘a vegetable flan from the Auvergne region of France’, but rather a vegetable pate fortified with prosciutto and studded with mushrooms.
- 1/3 lb Swiss chard, w/stems, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 – 2 oz. prosciutto, chopped
- ½ cup coarsely chopped parsley
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ¼ tsp nutmeg, grated
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup flour
- 2 large eggs beaten to blend
- Optional: one handful prunes large chop; or 8-12 small mushrooms, sautéed in garlic butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a small loaf pan, approximately 4 ½ x 8 ½ inches.
- In a food processor place chard, onion, prosciutto, and parsley and blend until very finely chopped and almost paste-like – in batches if necessary. Blend in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk milk and flour until there are no lumps, add the eggs and whisk until well blended. Stir in the vegetable mixture. Add the prunes or mushrooms, if desired.
- Transfer to baking container. Bake until set and skewer comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Serve hot, room temperature or warm. To reheat, brown slices in a small amount of butter. Serves 4
Note: The terrine slices appear far more green than the photo here may suggest. When sauteed their color is muted during the browning process.
Got chard and wondering what to do with it tonight?
That was the case with the remnants of our last CSA box: a lovely bunch of Swiss chard―screaming for attention.
Here is a tasty chard and quinoa combination that is not only packed with extraordinary health benefits, it also delivers plenty of personality and eye appeal. The light basil sauce hits all the right notes and makes the perfect complement to this hearty dish. Whipped together while the torta bakes, the creamy accompaniment elevates this beauty to more than just another mid-week meal solution.
Don’t let the list of ingredients and instructions discourage you, because the torta is easily assembled and popped in the oven in under an hour. The sauce and any clean-up can be finished while it bakes.
Allow the torta to rest a few minutes and it will slice smoothly into tall elegant servings. If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, they are even better the next day.
Chard & Quinoa Torta with Basil Sauce
- ¾ cup quínoa
- 1 ¼ cup water
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 bunch or 8 cups chard leaves, trimmed of stems, cleaned, drained and chopped
- dash salt and pepper
- 6 eggs
- 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, and divided
- 2/3 cup milk
- pinch of salt
- 1 ½ Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 cup chicken stock or bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- dash salt and white pepper
- 1/8 tsp. Tabasco sauce, or to taste
- 2 Tbsp. pesto
- 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1-2 Tbsp. minced green onion
For the Quinoa: If not pre-packaged, rinse the quinoa, drain it, and toast it briefly in a dry cooking pan over medium heat to remove its natural coating which can cause bitterness. Add water, salt and bay leaf to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Set aside, covered, while preparing torta ingredients.
For the Torta
- Coat a large quiche dish or other 2 qt. oven ware with 1 tsp. butter or olive oil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, stir in the garlic and the rosemary, and cook 1 minute. 4. Add the chard leaves, salt and pepper, and toss to combine; cover and cook 5 to 8 minutes to wilt and soften leaves and any residual liquid is absorbed. Place the chard and quinoa in a mixing bowl.
- Meanwhile, combine the eggs, 1/3 cup Parmesan, the milk and salt. Pour this over the chard mixture and combine well.
- Pour the torta mixture evenly into prepared dish and bake for about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup Parmesan and bake additional 10-15 minutes, until top begins to brown. Remove and allow to rest a few minutes before cutting. Serves 4 or more.
For the Sauce
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and stir in the flour; whisk and cook or 2 minutes; add the garlic and stir for a minute to incorporate well.
- Whisk in the chicken stock; stir until it is thick and smooth. Slowly add the milk; whisk until the sauce is thick and smooth; stir in the nutmeg, salt and white pepper, Tabasco, and the Parmesan cheese. Just before serving, add the pesto and the onion and stir until well blended and smooth. Adjust seasoning and serve hot.