I've had a tremendously busy day today, and a rewarding one too, it's lifted my spirit. So I am off to put my feet up and enjoy what is left of my evening, but before I sign off from the blog, I thought I would share with you a recipe I made a week or so back when I visited Usk Farmers Market, where I discovered the most wonderful home-made bread and was seduced by these tall long ruby chard stems. I really miss growing rainbow chard at home, so was delighted by this find. I picked up a bag full that looked like a bunch of flowers and would look wonderful adorning any vase. But the ruby chard was not for admiring. I knew exactly what I wanted to make.
My husband reminded me of this pasta dish I used to make. although its nothing like a macaroni cheese pie, its the closest thing I can think of to describe this pasta dish that is baked in a pastry. I usually make this pasta loaf with spinach, but with the red chard to hand that is what I used.
It was really nice. The red chard has a distinct flavour, you'll either like it or not. Fortunately for us, we like it. There was also a twang from the feta cheese. This pasta loaf is perhaps best enjoyed the next day, as it sliced better cold or at room temperature, making it good for the lunch box or picnics. Not that it is picnic weather of course, but you get my point.
Here it is, a generous slice. As the main ingredient in this Pasta Loaf is Ruby Red Chard picked up from Ty Mawr Vegetable stall at Usk Farmers Market, I am sharing this recipe with Elizabeth's Kitchen for Shop Local #4 challenge.
Ruby Red Chard and Feta Cheese Pasta Loaf
Serves 6 - 8 depending on size of slices
For the filling
200g - 225g macaroni pasta (or penne)
200g-300g ruby Swiss chard or spinach, roughly chopped including the stalks
1 tablespoon cornflour, mixed to a paste with 2 tablespoons of cold water
250ml double cream
3 medium eggs, beaten
100g feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for shortcrust pasty to line a 2lb loaf tin
225g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons water
Cook pasta according to packet instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large pan, add the stalks first and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, before adding the the remaining chard and cook until the leaves begin to wilt. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked pasta.
Now make the shortcrust pastry
Add flour and salt to a bowl. Add the butter, then rub it into the flour with your fingertips, lifting the mixture out of the bowl to incorporate as much air as possible as this will make the pastry light. Continue until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs, then add the water, tablespoon at a time, pressing together to form a firm dough. Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead rolling out the dough to line a 2 lb loaf tin. Cut off over-lapping excess and re-roll this to fit as a lid.
Carefully transfer the pasta mixture into the pastry case, pressing down gently. Then in a bowl, combine the cornflour paste with cream, eggs and feta cheese. Season to taste. Then pour this over the pasta in the tin, until it covers the pasta.
Dampen the edges of the pastry with a little water, then top with the pastry lid. Seal the edges by pressing with your thumb or fork. Make a small hole in the top for the steam to escape. Bake in a preheated oven gas mark 4/180oc for 45 minutes to an hour or until the pastry is golden. Leave to cool 15 minutes, before turning out and cooling for a further 15 minutes before slicing.