As the mornings get lighter, and my trip down to the hen-house gets earlier, I am want to muse on the changing seasons and the promise of spring; the melodious song of the resident blackbird accompanies me on my walk to the bottom of the garden now and there is frenetic nest-building activity going on all around me……I know there may be a few more frosts left to be endured, but I feel that spring has finally sprung.
The chickens are happier and egg production has increased….there is a carpet of sweet violets on the front lawn and tulips and daffodils nod in the breeze next to the ancient stone wall. It’s all very bucolic and even the air seems to smell sweeter as more and more buds unfurl, adding to the scent of freshly bruised grass as I walk past the orchard. It’ll soon be time to sow seeds and plant my bedding plants.…..
……and it was on one such walk down to the hen-house that I created today’s recipe, in my head, as I often do when searching for inspiration. Knowing there were at least a dozen eggs sitting in the pantry, along with a bunch of Swiss chard, and, also remembering that I had a pot of cottage cheese that needed to be eaten soon, I mentally devised a new recipe betwixt the old quince tree and the house.
No quince adorn its bare branches now, but there is a whisper of the aromatic fruits in the buds that are burgeoning. Today’s recipe for Three Cheese and Swiss Chard Pasta Bake Cake is my answer to creating a comfort dish for spring – not as hefty and weighty as a full-blown winter style pasta bake, this is delicately seasoned with dill as well as being made with three cheeses.
The star of the recipe is undoubtedly the vibrant green leaves of Swiss chard, and my hen’s free-range eggs; as well as the cottage cheese, the dish relies on cream cheese and Parmesan to qualify for its three cheese title. It’s easy to make and looks very impressive once unmoulded and served. It is delicious when served warm with sundry salad leaves, however, just as a slice of cold pizza beckons the morning after, this pasta bake cake is also great when eaten cold.
Follow the easy steps in the recipe below, and make this for all your spring and Easter menus – when chard is not available, use spinach or even kale. You can change the cheeses to suit your fridge contents, but you do need a soft cheese in the recipe to make it work. Ricotta will work well in place of cottage cheese, and if you live in France, Brousse, an artisan curd cheese, would also make a great substitute.
I’m also entering in to Dom’s new event, Simply Eggcellent, as eggs are used in the recipe!
If you make this recipe, PLEASE do let me know what you thought of it, and share any tweaks and amendments you might have made too. Have a great week, and if you celebrate St Patrick’s Day, do check out my St Patrick’s Day Feast menu here: St Patrick’s Day Feast: Soda Bread, Ulster Fry & Salt Beef with Champ. Karen
Three Cheese and Swiss Chard Pasta Bake Cake
A delightful twist on the usual pasta bake, this “savoury cake” is baked in a cake tin with fresh chard and free-range eggs. The three cheeses make for a tasty and protein packed light lunch or supper dish.
- 250g penne pasta
- 350g fresh Swiss chard, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 4 free-range eggs (beaten)
- 300g cottage cheese
- 150g cream cheese
- 100g Parmesan cheese (plus some extra for the topping)
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped dill
- salt and pepper, to taste
A delightful twist on the usual pasta bake, this “savoury cake” is baked in a cake tin with fresh chard and free-range eggs. The three cheeses make for a tasty and protein packed light lunch or supper dish. Serve with seasonal greens or a salad.
|Step 1||Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Cook the penne pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain in a colander.|
|Step 2||Using the same water as the pasta, blanch the chard for a few minutes then drain and add to the pasta.|
|Step 3||Put the pasta, chard and all of the other ingredients into a large bowl and mix well, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.|
|Step 4||Grease and line a 20cm (9″) easy release cake tin with baking paper and spoon the ingredients into the tin. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon and sprinkle some extra Parmesan cheese over the top.|
|Step 5||Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the pasta bake cake has set and is golden brown.|
|Step 6||Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a serving platter; cut into wedges and serve warm with salad leaves.|
|Step 7||Can be reheated in the microwave.|
Links to other pasta recipes on Lavender and Lovage: