My large, Italian extended family are descendants of four brothers who came to the United States in the early 1900s from Sicily bringing their wives and children to create a new life in this country. My mother was one of eight children (three born in Sicily and five born here). She grew up in a household that cooked Italian and it seemed natural for me to continue the tradition of using those recipes and eating food made from ingredients grown in my backyard garden. Swiss Chard Pie is one of my favorite family recipes with a few twists of my own.
I serve this pie as a lunch entrée with green side salad or with just cucumbers and tomatoes. This is a meal that works especially when I have vegetarian friends or relatives staying with me.
Italian Swiss Chard Pie
Scachatta likely a contraction or corruption of sciachiatta, which is basically a pie made with pizza dough and filled with seasoned greens or meat.
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1½ cups water, total
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise yeast
Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Put aside.
Add yeast to a cup of warm water with a pinch of sugar. Wait for the yeast to activate until lightly foaming.
Once activated, add to the flour mixture with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the rest of the water GRADUALLY, mixing it your hands until a sticky dough forms. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and roll the ball of dough so that it is completely covered with a light coating of olive oil. Cover bowl with towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Once the dough has risen, place on a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough feels pliable. Divide in half, roll out one half and place on a parchment-paper-lined pizza pan or large cookie sheet.
Roll out the second half to use to cover the Swiss chard mixture.
Swiss chard filling
4 cups cooked Swiss chard
½ cup sliced onions
2–3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Optional: 1 can anchovies fillets, cut small
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
Wash the chard and cut the stems into small pieces. Boil the stems in salted water until fork tender. Drain well. In a large frying pan, brown the onion and minced garlic lightly in olive oil. Add the stems along with torn-up Swiss chard leaves, red pepper, cut-up anchovies, salt and pepper, thyme and oregano and cook until the Swiss chard leaves are wilted. Mix ingredients well and cook slowly for about 5 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
Roll half the dough on a floured surface and stretch the dough over a large cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Spread the cooled Swiss chard mixture over this evenly, then sprinkle cheese on it and cover with a second half of the dough, rolled out. Press edges closed. Cut 2 slits in the center to allow steam to escape.
Bake in 350° oven for 35–40 minutes, until nicely browned.
Let cool and serve. Spinach or escarole may be substituted for Swiss chard.