Cheese on Toast…with Attitude

Rainbow Chard…don’t you just love the name…? I love its colour, its ruby and yellow stalks, its gleaming leaves. The way it squeaks and crunches when I pick it, bunch it, wash it and remove the stems. There’s a music in strong green leaves at this time of year…almost a tune. While it tries to masquerade as a member of the brassica family, I forgive its airs and graces and love it for what it is…Beta vulgaris.

Rainbow Chard

Last year I made Chard, Onion and Goats’ Cheese Tart with Pine Nuts and Currants  from Riverford Organic  Farm . We all loved it with one reservation- even though there’s usually some commercial puff pastry in the freezer, there had to be a more wholesome base for the tart, something whose provenance I could trust; something which would not only please the palate, but sustain the 1014 bacteria housekeeping the body’s internal ecosystem.  Then, along came Arún bakery with their sourdough bread, a fermented product baked daily, down the road.  Sorted!

Habsburg Sourdough Bread

Rather than making a tart on a puff pastry base, I prepared the topping, piled it on toasted slices of Habsburg  and subjected it to a hot grill.

The flavours were perfect together; – a base of yeasty bread, strong bitter-ish chlorophyll- laden leaves of chard, counterbalanced by the sweetness of onions and garlic sautéed together in olive oil, then seasoned with salt and pepper, a grating of nutmeg and some lemon juice. To top it all, some goats’ cheese, raisins and toasted pine kernels.


4 slices of sourdough bread, toasted

3 onions, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil

2 bunches rainbow chard

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

A scraping of fresh nutmeg

200g goats’ cheese, sliced or crumbled

A handful of pine kernels, dry roasted in a hot oven for 3-5 minutes until golden

A handful of raisins or currants soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes, then drained.


– Toast the sliced sourdough bread till golden. Set aside

-Set the grill to its highest setting and prepare a grill rack over a baking tray.

-Sauté the chopped onions in olive oil over a moderate heat until soft and beginning to colour.

– Towards the end, add the minced garlic and cook gently. Do not allow to brown or the garlic gets bitter.

In the meantime

-Plunge the chard into a sink-ful of cold water and wash carefully.  Drain, remove the stems, keeping the fine ones for cooking and discarding the tough, stringy ones.

-Chop the stems and leaves

-Bring 2” water to the boil in a pan, add chard leaves and stems, cover and return to the boil for 5 minutes then turn into a colander to drain.

-Add drained chard to onion mixture and season with salt and pepper, nutmeg and lemon juice. Keep cooking over a low heat until any liquid has evaporated and the mixture has become dry-ish.

-Arrange toasted slices of bread on the grill rack.

-Pile generous spoonfuls of chard/onion mixture on top

– Lay slices of goats’ cheese on top and scatter raisins and pine nuts over.

Grill for a few minutes until goats’ cheese begins to melt.  All grills differ…take care that you don’t burn the pine nuts and raisins.  If you have a blow-torch for crème brulée, it might be easier to scorch the cheese first, then scatter the pine nuts and raisins over.

Rainbow Chard and Goats’ Cheese Crostini

The chard/onion mix can be made in advance and refrigerated.

These Rainbow Chard and Goats’ Cheese Sourdough Crostini then become a convenience food….cheese on toast, anyone?

About haysparks

Viewing the world, the human condition, our history, evolution and health through the prism of food.
This entry was posted in Irish food, Nutritious food and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Cheese on Toast…with Attitude

  1. Absolutely delightful. A must try.

  2. peggy says:

    Gosh that sounds good! All my favourite ingredients too!

  3. Meeta says:

    hanks for leaving such an awesome comment on my birthday post … it truly made me smile! I adore rainbow chard and this is just a great way to use it!

    • haysparks says:

      Delighted, Meeta. Enjoy Stockholm- the people at that latitude really treasure their summer solstice. A few years ago I was there at midsummer with a group. We were all ferried up through the archipelago to a remote restaurant. After feasting well on reindeer, cloudberries etc, we came home in several small ferries by the midnight sun which hovered just above the horizon. Being Irish, we had a sing-off, the ‘noble call’ (as we call it in Ireland) passing from one boat to the next. As we re-entered the suburban waters of ‘Venice of the North” we toned it down. As I sit in rainy, rainy Dublin today, I recall it with great pleasure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s