Sephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit Penso

Sephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake

Sephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit PensoThis tasty bake is well loved in the Sephardic cuisine (check HERE for information about it), and is traditionally served for Saturday brunch. The bake is usually served with Tzatziki (recipe can be found HERE), hard boiled eggs and fresh vegetables or vegetable salad. Another tasty option is to serve it with a bit of date or maple syrup. The combination of sweet and salty is addictive.

The unique presentation, made by separating the potato-cheese mixture and creating the patties on top, also adds different textures and flavors to the bake.
“Fongos”, the name in Ladino, is supposed to describe this special presentation. I’ve found two explanations for its meaning: one points at the similarity to “fungus” and that the patties looks like mushroom caps; the other claims it came from the “nests” the patties are put in. I’m not sure which one is the accurate one, but I like them both, as much as I like this bake.
I’m sure you’ll like it too, once you’ll try it.

A few notes:
* The original recipe calls for spinach. You can try both and decide which one you prefer.
* Quark cheese is fresh low fat cheese, with smooth and creamy texture. I use the Israeli one (called “Gvina Levana”), which can be found in Kosher stores and is very creamy, but any other will do. If you can’t find it, substitute with sour cream.
* The potatoes are cooked in their skin, and drained quickly, so they will not absorb too much water and be too moist to form the patties.
* If you plan to serve the bake with other dishes, you can make the patties smaller and cut the bake into 6-8 portions.

Makes: 4 (see notes)
Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 50 minutes
Ingredients:
4 medium potatoes, unpeeled
2 large Swiss chard bundles
1 tsp salt
2 XL eggs
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 oz (140 grams) Feta cheese
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
8.8 oz (250 grams) 9% fat Quark cheese (see notes), or sour cream

1. Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 25 minutes, until they are soft. Drain and cool to room temperature. Peel, mash and measure 2 cups mashed potatoes.
2. Wash the Swiss chard thoroughly. Remove the white stems (use in THIS tasty salad) and cut roughly. Place in a shallow pot while still wet, add 1 tsp salt and mix. Cover the pot and steam over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes until soft. Cool to room temperature and measure 1 cup.
Sephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit PensoSephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit Penso
3. Preheat the oven to 360F (180C). Line a 9.5” (24cm) square pan with baking paper.
4. Place the mashed potatoes in a large bowl. Add 1 egg, salt, black pepper, feta cheese, parmesan cheese and ¾ of the Quark cheese. Mix well.
Sephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit PensoSephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit Penso
Remove ¼ of the mixture to another bowl. Add the Swiss chard to the bowl, along with the extra egg and leftover Quark cheese and mix well. Transfer to the pan, level the top with a spatula, and create four “nests” in the mixture with the back of a spoon. Create four patties from the leftover potato-cheese mix and place one in each “nest”.
Sephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit PensoSephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit Penso Sephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit PensoSephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit Penso
5. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the bake is set and patties are golden. Let cool a bit before cutting.
Sephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit PensoSephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit Penso    Sephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit PensoSephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit Penso Sephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake Ronit Penso

62 thoughts on “Sephardic Swiss Chard, Potatoes and Cheese Bake

  1. judilyn says:

    What a great combination! We eat a lot of chard, but usually just as a side dish with butter, or sometimes some balsamic, depending on what else is on the plate. These little squares look irresistible!

    Thank you for the translation of “quark”. I routinely read a blog (Schnippelboy) written in German – https://42weimar42.wordpress.com/ – and he uses quark frequently. I have been too lazy to look up the meaning, but thought it might be some sort of squash or cucumber. His use of fresh ingredients is totally droolworthy!

    I am preparing for a small outing today with chicken salad and Cole slaw as the main picnic ingredients. I have been on a bread baking kick in the last few days, so have three separate choices for today. I used spelt flour in the pizza crust last night, and it was delish! There was enough dough, which I had infused with onion powder, garlic powder, and a generous shake of oregano, leftover for two small loaves. They were very fragrant coming out of the oven, and snacked attacked me just before I went to bed!

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tasty Eats Ronit Penso says:

      Thank you Judie! This bake is one of my favorites and I’m glad you liked the idea.

      It’s funny you thought Quark is some kind of squash! The cheese was indeed introduced in Israel by Jews who fled Europe in the 20’s and 30’s. The Israeli version is very creamy and fresh. It is the most popular cheese in Israel and is used in both sweet and savory dishes, and also as a sandwich spread.

      Love the idea of adding spices to the dough and the spelt is by now almost mandatory for me in dough and even in cakes.
      Enjoy your picnic! :)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sandhya says:

    Ronit, What a nice combination of flavors and gorgeous presentation. It is like getting a yummy gift package for each person at the table.
    Your explanation on quark is very educating to me.
    Thanks for another awesome share!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nancy says:

    I absolutely love how the potato patty is nested in the swiss chard, Ronit. It creates a wonderful presentation! The dish, as a whole, sounds delicious. It’s definitely “taking cuts” on my must make list of dishes! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tasty Eats Ronit Penso says:

      Thank you Lindy! I’m glad you liked this dish. It’s an old family recipe and one of my all-time favorites.

      I did publish a cook book a few years ago, but I’m afraid you’ll have to learn Hebrew to use it! :)
      I’m still working on my second one, in English, but life always gets in the way…

      Liked by 1 person

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