April 23 2015

Cooking Gluten-Free Swiss Chard Tart

This is basically my favorite easy dinner recipe of all time, adapted to be gluten free.

This recipe comes from the "All New All Purpose" revised edition of The Joy of Cooking. I received my copy as a gift in 1997, so I guess it's not really the new thing anymore, but it's still pretty great. I've been making this recipe from it pretty much since I got the book (18 years ago?!? How did that happen?), and it's probably my single favorite dish to make. Swiss chard is a robust, delicious green, and it melds beautifully with lots of other flavors I love - cheese, tomato, sea salt.

This dish also pairs phenomenally well with a robust red wine, and it's amenable to almost anything you want to add to it. I like adding sun-dried tomatoes, or bits of chicken stripped from the remains of a roast chicken. In the height of tomato season, I'll slice a tomato verrrry thinly and layer it over the top.

The original recipe has a wheat flour and olive oil crust. One of the things that made the recipe attractive early on, when I really had no idea what I was doing in the kitchen, was how easy the crust was to make - 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup water. That's it. No fussy pastry dough to deal with. Just mix it, knead briefly, roll it out with a rolling pin, and toss it in the pan.

When I stopped eating gluten, my first attempt to make this dish (with a variant of the olive oil crust) was a complete disaster. My second attempt I started trying to make a more traditional pastry dough with butter and a GF flour mix, and I got a little closer. After a number of attempts I settled on a ratio of ingredients that worked pretty reliably.

Because I make this dish regularly (and it's so simple), it's becoming my standard tester for new gluten-free flour mixes - it's a good control. When gluten-free girl (and the chef) released their all-purpose flour blend commercially last month, Hilary ordered a batch, and I finally got a chance to try it out in this recipe.

The verdict

Pretty damn good. This version of the crust is by far the most flavorful gluten-free version I've made.

Trader Joe's all purpose blend is easily available and works reasonably well, but it's essentially flavorless - the resulting crust is basically inert packaging. Not exactly what you want in food. The version I made with Bob's Red Mill flour blend tasted odd. Cup4Cup works well, but I don't like the fact that it comes with xanthan gum pre-mixed in (and that name...ugh), and the crust was a bit too dense.

This one came out tasting ... simply fantastic. The crust had a rich flavor that stands up easily on its own, and says "delicious baked goods" to me. I can't wait to try the pizza dough recipe this weekend!


For the filling

  • 1 large bunch of swiss chard (red, white, rainbow - whatever), chopped
  • 1 onion (any variety), chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • A splash of milk
  • Shredded parmesan cheese
  • Seasonings to taste (basil, fresh or dried, is good)

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons ice cold water
  • sea salt
  • A pinch xanthan gum or 1 1/2 teaspoons psyllium.


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.

Making the dough

Assemble the crust ingredients, making sure that you've let the ice water chill thoroughly.

Chopping the butter will help it blend more easily (do this when the butter's still cold!)

Put the flour, butter, one egg, a pinch or two of sea salt, the ice water, and the psyllium husk or a pinch of xanthan gum in a food processor, and blend until it forms a ball (about 20-25 seconds).

Put the dough aside to make the filling. Chilling the dough in the refrigerator while you make the filling can make it easier to work with (but is optional).

Making the filling

Make sure the chard is well washed, then chop it and the onion.

Heat olive oil in a pan and sautée the onions until they're softened, then add the chard. Sautée until the chard is wilted (about 5 minutes), adding whatever seasonings you like, such as basil. Sun-dried tomatoes are a good thing to add now as well if desired.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the three eggs, then add a splash of milk and beat them some more. Add the parmesan cheese.

Add the chard mixture to the egg mixture and stir well to combine them evenly.

Assembling the tart

Start with a 9" tart pan. One with a removable bottom will make it much easier to remove the tart from the pan when it's done.

The gluten-free dough can't really be rolled out with a pin and tossed into the pan like a gluten-full dough can. You have to assemble it more like a puzzle. Take a hunk of the dough, roll it into a ball, then flatten it and place it in the pan.

It helps to have a bit of flour coating your hands and the dough, to keep it from sticking to you. Repeat until the entire base is covered.

For the sides, roll the dough into a cyclinder, place it along the curve, and flatten it upwards.

Once the pan is completely covered, pour the filling and make sure it's evenly distributed. As a final step, I like to gently fold down the edges of the crust. It's a purely cosmetic step, but I like how tidy it looks.

Bake for 45 minutes

If you're baking in a pan with a removable bottom, I recommend placing the tart pan on a cooking sheet, in case any of the egg mixture leaks. After 45 minutes in the oven, it should be all golden and set firm.

Cut into fourths and enjoy! I like it with a nice red wine, like anything at all from Ridge.