Friday, November 25, 2011

Swiss Chard Gratin

I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving!  If you need to detox a bit today, this veggie dish might be just the ticket - I ate it as a main dish with some bread and butter, though you could certainly also serve it in smaller portions as a side.

This was a great dinner put together with food from the farmer's market.  I came across this recipe on an afternoon when I had almost no real food in the house but just didn't feel like running out to the grocery.  Luckily it was a Tuesday, when there's a farmer's market about 2 blocks from my house! As you might expect from an Alice Waters recipe, this step has quite a few steps - making breadcrumbs from fresh bread and then toasting them with oil in the oven, blanching the chard and then adding it to a white sauce that's been made separately, and then finally layering everything in a baking dish.  However, the results are very tasty - the greens taste rich and flavorful without a ton of added fat and no added meat (though I'm sure some crispy bacon would be excellent here), and the breadcrumb topping is so much crispier and yummier than sprinkling over pre-made breadcrumbs or even panko.

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Swiss Chard Gratin (adapted from the Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters)
Serves 2 as a main or 3-4 as a side

Butter (a few tablespoons all together)
1 large bunch Swiss chard
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (grind up good-quality, crustless bread in the blender or food processor)
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 tsp flour
1/2 cup milk (I used non-fat)
Splash of cream (optional)
Freshly grated nutmeg
Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a smallish baking dish.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2. Wash and stem the chard.  Save half the stems and thinly sliced them, and cut all of the leaves into large pieces.
3. Add a generous amount of salt to the boiling water and stir to dissolve.  Add the chard stems and cook 2 minutes.  Add the leaves to the pot and cook for 3 more minutes.  Drain and allow to cool. Gently squeeze out the extra liquid and set aside.
4.  Toss the breadcrumbs with the olive oil and spread onto a baking sheet.  Toast in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.  When you remove the breadcrumbs, leave the oven on.
5. Meanwhile, melt 1-1/2 T butter in a large skillet.  Add the onion and cook over medium heat until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chard and season with salt.  Cook 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over and stir well.  Add the milk and a few grates of nutmeg.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If the mixture gets too thick, add a splash of cream or more milk.  The chard should be moist but not floating in liquid.  Taste and add salt if needed.
6. Transfer the chard to the buttered baking dish.  Dot the top with a couple of teaspoons of butter.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the chard, and then sprinkle over a bit of Parmesan cheese, if desired.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden and bubbling.

1 comment:

  1. All these years never had swiss chard you just gave me a reason why looks great!