You know how there are those situations that make you revert to your college, elementary-school, or worse, toddler-style self?
Like when we’re home for Thanksgiving, my sister Kate and I squabble over who gets to beat the whipped cream for the Maida Heatter chocolate marquise cake even though the rest of the year we adoringly text each other pictures of our food and trade recipes and tips and menu ideas.
Or like how when Jennie manages the soundtrack for high school friends’ birthdays, we dance to 50 Cent “In Da Club” like it’s, er, going out of style.
Here’s another situation that makes me revert to a younger, more self-conscious Cara: opening up a packed lunch.
I’m a food blogger. My packed lunches taste great. It’s just that sometimes they’re a little weird. Like the other day, I packed a huge container of a ginger-dressed cole slaw I was testing. But I didn’t bring anything to eat with the slaw, or anything to top it with. And the ginger-garlic-cabbage smell wafted out of my lunchbox with more strength than it had had at home. And cabbage is hardly the only culprit. Whenever I open my lunch, my awareness of looks, scents, and the possibility of misinterpretation inches upwards until it hits seventh grade girl levels.
Purchased puff pastry is an image saver, though. The same hodgepodge of ingredients that would be totally embarrassing to mix together in a lunchbox evolve into a sophisticated meal when wrapped in puff pastry. Hello cabbage, or hello Swiss chard.
Puff pastry is a work saver, too – it’s really easy to use and quick to bake. (If you hate saving on work and want to make your own, Ashley from Not Without Salt is your gal.)
These little turnovers epitomize simplicity. I toss Swiss chard leaves with a Parmesan-laced salad dressing and layer them inside squares I’ve cut from a sheet of puff pastry. Then I sprinkle with pistachios and bake for 15 minutes and that’s it.
They evoke spinach pies on the one hand and kale chips on the other. One turnover makes an appetizer, two make a satisfying, image-conscious lunch. They’re great at room temperature and reheat pretty well in the microwave.
This post is participating in Food Network’s back-to-school Communal Table, where a bunch of great foodies are sharing their takes on brown bag lunches. Follow the conversation on twitter using hashtag #pullupachair and check out all the great lunchtime links below!
Food.com: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sushi Rolls
FoxNews.com: Sunflower Seed Butter and Apple Butter Pancake Sandwich
Eatocracy: Broke College Student Buffet
The Daily Meal: Bacon Cheesy Whole-Wheat Pita Pockets
FN Dish: Double-Duty Dinners Turned Lunches
YumSugar: Fully-Loaded Turkey Club Sandwich
Liquor.com: Back to (Cocktail) School
Food52: Pan Bagnat: Le French Tuna Salad Sandwich
Yahoo! Shine: Avocado Quinoa Salad
Healthy Eats: Mini Quinoa Rice Stuffed Mushrooms
Cooking Channel: Lunch Recipes Your Coworkers Will Try to Steal
Swiss Chard Turnovers with Parmesan and Pistachios
Makes 12, serves 6 for lunch or 12 as appetizers
2 cloves garlic, minced then made into a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
10 large Swiss chard leaves, cut into 4 pieces each
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
One 17-ounce packae of puff pastry–in the Pepperidge Farm package, this gives you two sheets–defrosted in the fridge
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the minced garlic, lemon juice, mustard, Parm, olive oil, and pepper. Stir well. Add the chard leaves and toss with the dressing to coat each piece generously.
Take out one sheet of puff pastry and unfold it. If it’s uneven, use a rolling pin to shape into into an even rectangle, but don’t roll it too thin. Use a paring knife to cut the sheet into 6 rectangles.
Take one rectangle, and rotate it 45 degrees so it looks like a diamond. Pull out the two sides of the diamond, and layer on 3 pieces of chard, overlapping them, from the top point down to the bottom. Sprinkle on a couple of the chopped pistachios.
Now, fold the side points of the diamond–the ones you stretched out a little–over the filling until they overlap about an inch. Press them down. It’s okay if it looks a little messy–as it cooks and puffs up, it’ll look fine.
Using a spatula, transfer the turnover to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough until you have 12 turnovers.
Bake them for 15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Cool for 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet, then serve. These also taste great room temperature and are easily reheated in the microwave.