Until I went to culinary school, I couldn’t have cared less about cooking savory recipes. Though I said yes to any food I crossed paths with, when it came to making something in the kitchen, I wanted to bake cookies, cakes, or brownies.
During my culinary arts program, I cast a longing eye to the pastry classrooms, but as each day passed, I discovered a part of me that loved making a well-trussed roast chicken or a hors d’oeuvre. A new interest in cooking was helpful at home and for eating well, but aside from my desire to cook good ingredients and healthy meals, I never felt compelled to make a savory recipe from a cookbook.
In fact, whenever read a cookbook, I immediately flip to the back to find the desserts. Even in books by chefs with no sweets to their name, I look to see what pudding or ice cream they have included. My shelves are full of savory cookbooks I received as gifts, and pastry books I have bought myself.
At last, I have found a cookbook that-although it contains zero dessert recipes-has compelled me to follow a recipe and get into the kitchen for something other than pound cake.
The book is Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli-born chef who lives in London. Recipes like Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie and Yogurt Flatbreads with Barley and Mushrooms seem to fit right into how I like to eat, yet push me to try new combinations and flavors. I earmarked at least 20 recipes after purchasing the book, and can’t wait to try more.
This recipe is adapted from the original, using Cheddar in place of the kashkaval cheese Ottolenghi calls for in the recipe, and adding a teaspoon of cayenne pepper for spice, which cuts some of the richness from frying. The cakes are monumentally delicious, compelling you to divide the entire batch between two people for a meal. Covered, the sauce keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty
- 2 cups basil leaves, packed
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
- 1 1/4 lb Swiss chard, cut into 1/2-inch strips
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 4 oz grated Cheddar cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- Olive oil or grape seed oil, for frying
1. Place the basil leaves, spinach, yogurt, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, garlic, mustard and 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper in a blender. Blend until fully incorporated and bright green. Taste and add salt, if desired. Refrigerate until needed.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the chard and simmer for 4 minutes. Drain the chard and allow to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop the leaves and stalks again and squeeze out any remaining water. Place the chard in a large bowl.
3. Add the almonds, cheese, egg, breadcrumbs, cayenne, and the remaining salt and pepper to the chard. Combine with your hands or a spatula until well incorporated. Form the mixture into 8 patties, which should measure about 3-inches wide and 1-inch thick.
4. Pour enough frying oil into a large skillet to come 1/4-inch up the sides. Fry the patties for about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Place on paper towels to absorb oil. Serve warm or at room temperature, with sauce on the side.