Swiss Chard Strudel Recipe

Strudel de Blettes

[Swiss Chard Strudel]

Last Saturday, I recruited a few dear friends to help me eat the Chocolate & Zucchini Cake I had baked : with Maxence away on a business trip, it was just me and that good-lookin’ cake, and although I can always be trusted to do my fair share of the eating, that’s exactly the problem. Plus, I needed opinions! So Ludo and Marie-Laure, and our next-door neighbors Stéphan and Patricia, were invited over for a little potluck dinner.

Ludo and Marie-Laure took care of the cheese course, bread and wine, and our neighbors brought appetizers, including little toasts of a wonderful chicken liver mousse made by their butcher friend. I love chicken liver, its sweet taste and soft texture, and this was really well seasoned, with shallots and herbs. Stéphan also made a gratin de pâtes, a sort of pasta bake with multicolored quinoa pasta, tasty and moist.

As for me, I contributed the cake, and wanted to make a savory dish as well. I had recently found sheets of filo dough (also spelled phyllo) at Monoprix, a slightly upscale French grocery store, so filo dough concoctions had been on my mind for awhile. I also had a fresh bunch of swiss chard and a round of fresh goat cheese, so I was inspired to make swiss chard strudels.

Filo dough is not commonly sold in mainstream stores around here. It is easier to find brick dough, which is somewhat similar, but not quite : brick dough is a North-African specialty (rather than Middle-Eastern), the sheets are round instead of rectangular, and they are thicker and not as smooth. It was my first time working with filo dough, and it turned out to be a bit more tricky to handle than brick dough. The thinness of filo causes it to dry out pretty quickly, so it’s a good idea to cover the stack of sheets with a damp towel. But not too damp, otherwise the sheets will get too soft and they’ll tear when you manipulate them. It does takes a little adjusting, but it is really worthwhile.

When layered and baked, the sheets of filo get this really pleasant consistency, brittle and flaky in places, soft and smooth in others. The swiss chard and goat cheese filling was really tasty, and the pairing was fabulous, both texture and flavor-wise. Not to mention that it also makes for a fairly elaborate and pretty presentation, worthy of a special occasion.

Strudel de Blettes

– a large bunch of swiss chard, white and green parts
– 2 cloves of garlic
– 2 shallots
– salt, pepper
– a heaping tablespoon of crème fraîche
– 50 g fresh goat cheese
– 1/4 C raisins
– 8 sheets of filo dough
– 1/4 C olive oil
– 1/2 C breadcrumbs

(Serves 6 as a side.)

Peel and chop the garlic and shallots. Heat up a little olive oil in a large skillet, and add the garlic and shallot. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat, until softened. Rinse the swiss chard and trim the bottom of the stalks. Separate the stalks from the leaves, chop the stalks and tear the leaves in one-inch squares. Add the stalks to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, covered, for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pieces start to soften. Add the leaves, sprinkle again with salt and pepper, stir, and cook for another five to ten minutes, until wilted and cooked through. Place in a colander to drain for at least half an hour, pressing with a wooden spoon from time to time to help the juices drain out.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Prepare the filling. Cut the goat cheese in small chunks. In a medium bowl, combine the cooked chard, the goat cheese, the crème fraîche and the raisins, stirring gently with a wooden spoon : you don’t want to make mush.

Assemble the strudels. Prepare the bread crumbs and the olive oil in two small ramequins. Lay a first sheet of filo dough on a large cutting board or clean work surface, covering the stack of remaining sheets with a piece of saran wrap topped with a damp dish towel. Lightly brush the sheet of filo dough with olive oil, then sprinkle with about a tablespoon of breadcrumbs. Cover with another sheet of dough, brush and sprinkle. Repeat with two other sheets, but omit the bread crumbs on the last sheet. You’ll end up with four stacked layers of filo dough, each brushed with oil on one side, with breadcrumbs between the layers.

Flip the stack so that the oiled side is beneath. Spread with half of the filling, leaving a margin on all sides, about 1 1/2 inch. Roll the strudel upon itself, like you would a jelly-roll, starting on a long side of the rectangle. Transfer the strudel with caution, seam side down, on the baking sheet, leaving room for the second one. Tuck the ends underneath, and brush the top with a little more oil if it looks a little dry, this will help it turn golden.

Repeat those steps with four other sheets of dough and the second half of the filling. Put the baking sheet into the oven for about twenty minutes, until the strudels are crispy and golden. Cut each strudel in slices and serve, warm or at room-temperature. This would make a great side with fish for instance, or can be served as a main dish. In the latter case, you may want to add diced tofu or ham to the filling for a bit more protein.

  • http://ilforno.typepad.com Alberto

    The strudel looks incredibly appetizing Clotilde. I love savory strudels in general but this post brought me back memories of vacations in (former) Yugoslavia and savory cheese and greens (might have been beet or spinach) for lunch on the beach. Thanks!

  • http://countingsheep.typepad.com/ jo

    When I work with filo I put the filo out on a plastic wrap sheet and then place plastic wrap sheet loosely on top and then the damp tea towel, it will keep it moist without the cloth sticking to the filo.

    Those do look really yummy. I’m goiong to have to try that.

  • http://radio.weblogs.com/0129838/ Donna in Harrisburg

    This looks incredible — sounds delicious… but when I saw the inclusion of raisins in the ingredients list, I knew it would be divine! A little nugget of sweetness to balance the savory… Mmmm.

  • http://home.earthlink.net/~michaelacavanaugh Michael CAVANAUGH

    Bonjour Clotilde,
    Sounds tasty!
    Here’s a challenge; may have to look beyond Monoprix, but if you can find filo shredded, it can be used to bread crevettes for deep-frying. (Even in LA where several ethnic groups routinely use filo, it takes a little searching, but it is available frozen and keeps well.) The result looks stunning: “shrimp porcupines,” with little golden brown spikes sticking out every which way. This is a modern classic by Michel Richard formerly at Citrus in LA (though Senderens has done a take-off with vermicelli). Michel serves it on a bed of “purple sauce,” a cold sauce using red cabbage, mayonnaise, & vinegar (the trick is not to cook the cabbage, so the sauce is bright purple). It’s deceptively simple, beautiful, crunchy into the bargain & the most creative use I’ve seen of filo.
    Best,
    Michael
    LA

  • http://www.americandemeter.motime.com Karen

    Filo dough is wonderful to cook with. It’s readily available here. The trouble, though, is when I use half the package. I assume that the rest can’t be refrozen.

  • ROBERT

    Finely minced toasted pine nuts make a nice textural addition to the breadcrumbs in such a strudel. If one were to add minced anchovies and whole toasted pine nuts to the filling it would be very much like the classic Catalan Spinach (Espinacs a la Catalana). Worth considering as a variation to an already wonderful recipe.

  • http://countingsheep.typepad.com/ jo

    Okay first, if I had read the recipe I would have not made my silly comment about using the plastic wrap with the filo dough, as usual Clotilde, you were already on it.
    It’s in the oven right now with the following mods out of necessity;
    Chard is red.
    Raisins are golden
    Bread crumbs are Panko
    Mix of butter and olive oil
    I can tell you now that the stuffing is yummy, cooks priviledge :-)

    Thanks!
    j

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Alberto – Oh, where in Yugoslavia were you?

    Jo – Well it just shows it’s a good tip! :) Delighted you liked the strudel. Did your guests agree?

    Donna – Yes, the raisins play a great role in this!

    Michael – That sounds really interesting, I’ll have to look around for these! In any case, I can always shred filo myself! :)

    Karen – I think you’re right, it shouldn’t be refrozen. Around here it is sold fresh, not frozen, so that’s not a problem.

    Robert – Excellent suggestion, thanks!

  • Andree

    I made this for dinner tonight, and it was fantastic! I had a huge bunch of red chard arrive in my organic delivery on Friday, and it was the perfect way to use it up. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Merkin

    This sounds like a variation on a Greek classic, spanakopita, i.e., spinach pie, which I used to eat regularly in New York in Greek diners. Spinach instead of chard, feta, pine nuts, sometimes dill. I made some out of nostalgia a couple of weeks ago. Then to use up the rest of the filo, banana chocolate strudel.
    http://www.google.com/search?num=20&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=%28phyllo+OR+filo%29+banana+chocolate&btnG=Search

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Andree – Delighted you liked it! And isn’t it pretty, too?

    Merkin – Banana Chocolate Strudel? I am 100% sold on this, it sounds fabulous!

  • http://countingsheep.typepad.com/ jo

    Incredible. Claps all around and a definite repeat.

  • http://home.earthlink.net/~michaelacavanaugh Michael CAVANAUGH

    PS I forgot to mention the shredded variety of filo also goes by the name “kataifi.” That may help in finding some.

  • Hande

    Great way to use filo. Have to try it out as soon as I have an oven!
    Just want to give my dab of information on filo:
    In Turkey, where I come from, we call it “yufka” and make “börek” out of it. Thats basically many layers (around 10) of filo, spread out in a not-too-deep-but-big form, each seperated with some oil brushed on, in the middle (eg. between 5 and 6) some kind of filling (usually spinach and feta cheese), on the very top some eggyolk brushed and then baked in the oven. Delicious…
    As to “kataifi” (in greek) or “kadayif” (in turkish), it has nothing in common with filo, was not born as filo to be shredded afterwards! Kadayif dough is made like very very thin spaghetti, and traditionally used only to make the same-named dessert (with a lot of sirup and butter and pistachios and wallnuts). No calories to speak of….
    Sorry for being a wiseass, but when there is talk about something to eat from my home country, I have to mix in :-)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Jo – I’m delighted you and your tasters liked it, thanks for reporting back!

    Michael – Thanks for the name precision!

    Hande – Thank you for the great filo/kadayif lore! I will think about the brushed egg tip next time, it probably makes for a more even coloring than oil. Kadayifs are my father’s favorite oriental pastry, I like baklavas better (or at least what I call baklavas, layers of filo dough with a nut or almond filling). I know an Armenian grocery store, they are likely to sell kadayif dough, right?

  • Margarita

    Your recipe sounds mouth-watering-good, I will try to make it. My mother made strudel dough (she was from Ukraine)- by roll/stretch method – she always told me that the true strudel from Austria did not use filo dough. Her´s was paper thin – but not layered. Her – Onion Strudel is one of my favorites. It´s a mini one – great to cut for appetizers. I know that using filo dough is more practical, but I like the other one better for strudels.
    I have been enjoying your site. I live in Brazil and have access to very exotic food – it´s just great. I am sure you would enjoy it. Margarita

  • Courtney

    I made your recipe last year for a dinner party and it was a hit! I’m making it again for a work pot luck tomorrow.

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