Monday, February 10, 2014

Creamy Chard and Mushrooms on Toast with Poached Egg

Several years ago, I took a leave of absence from work to go to Vancouver and get my culinary arts diploma.  Why?  I'm not really sure, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time!  During the program, we had to do a black box test.  We were told a few ingredients ahead of time, but we didn't know which ones we would get.  All I knew was that one of them could be swiss chard.  In the past, I had sautéed it with mushrooms and balsamic vinegar as an accompaniment to my steak, but I wasn't sure how I would use it in other preparations.

The weekend before the exam, a bunch of us from class were at the house of another student when we decided to make brunch.  Each person grabbed a bunch of ingredients and made something for the communal table.  Since no one had taken the mushrooms from the fridge, and there was fresh chard in the garden, I decided to whip together my good old stand-by.  Since it was brunch, there was toast, and someone had soft-boiled a bunch of eggs.  It was then that kismet happened on my plate.  As I piled some of the chard and mushrooms onto my egg-soaked toast, the perfect medley occurred, and it was then that I knew what I would do for my black box if swiss chard were to appear.

As fate would have it, swiss chard did appear, and I invented a much more sophisticated version of that Sunday brunch for top marks.  I have since created this version, which is much more do-able for a quick brunch or light supper.

This recipe serves 2, but could easily be doubled to serve 4.


4 pieces of crusty toast

4 poached eggs

1Tbsp olive oil
1 leek, washed, quartered, and chopped
8 oz of mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 large swiss chard leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup cream
salt, pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper

1. Remove the stems from the chard and chop finely.  In a large pan on medium-high heat, sauté the chard stems, leeks, Italian seasoning, and mushrooms in the oil until mushrooms are brown and stems are tender - about 8 minutes.

2. Put another shallow pan on the stove and fill with water, salt, and a splash of white vinegar (if desired to help keep the egg whites together).

2. Slice the chard leaves in ribbons and add then with the garlic to the pan.  Sauté on medium low until leaves are wilted and pan is dry.  Season with salt and pepper.

3. Break an egg into a small cup being careful not to break the yolk.  If the yolk breaks, save it for another use and break a new one.  When the water is simmering, slowly and carefully pour the egg into the water being careful not to break the yolk.  Add the remaining eggs in the same way.  Set the timer for 4 minutes.

4. While the eggs are simmering, put the toast down.

5. When there is about 2 minutes left in the cooking time for the eggs, add the balsamic to the chard mixture and cook until the pan is almost dry.  Add the cream, turn the heat to low and adjust the seasoning.

6. When the toast pops, put two pieces on each plate, top with the chard mixture, and an egg on each  piece of toast.  Lightly sprinkle each egg with salt, pepper, and a touch of cayenne pepper.  Enjoy immediately.

Shopping Tips:

1. Swiss chard can be red, white, or yellow at the stem.  Any one will work as there is little difference in the taste.  For more detailed instructions and pictures about using it, refer to the instructions for kale on this recipe.

2. For more information about washing and cutting leeks, refer to this recipe.

3. Go here for another recipe that uses Italian herbs and balsamic vinegar.

4. You can use whatever cream you prefer: full fat or half and half.


1. Instead of the leeks, you could use shallots or finely sliced onions (if you have to).

2. To the mushrooms, you could add diced bell peppers.

3. Instead of poaching the eggs, you could soft-boil them for 5 minutes in boiling water.

4. Instead of toast, you could put the chard mixture and the egg on a bed of whole grains.

5. Layering fresh tomatoes between the chard and the egg tastes great too.

6. As stated above, the chard mixture is great on its own with steak.

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