Right out of the oven

When it comes to picking and choosing vegetables, I’m pretty predictable. I tend to go for the ones I’m most familiar with like your run of the mill carrots or broccoli, for instance.
Even when I go to the Farmer’s Market, I gravitate towards what I know instead of the more unusual pickings. Maybe I get a little intimidated? Swiss chard, for example, slightly intimidates me.   At the risk of sounding rather, uh, ignorant, I used to think that Swiss chard was a type of fancy cheese! Not very sophisticated, eh? If a recipe called for Swiss chard I would have done an internet search just so I’d know what to look for. Okay, I think you get my point. This is one big reason why Auntie Em’s produce delivery is such a good thing for me. Along with getting to try some awesome produce, I also get an education on the more “exotic” fruits and veggies available. Luckily, Auntie Em’s also has some recipe suggestions on their website which helps me out a whole lot. This one just so happens to be for a Swiss chard gratin by Alice Waters. The recipe is simple to follow but does take a little extra time to make. Instead of fresh bread crumbs, I used Panko, a ready-to-use Japanese bread crumb that you can find in most grocery stores nowadays.  I liked how this gratin turned out–the flavor was delicate and light. I think next time I’ll add some Parmesan cheese shavings on top to add a little more richness.  If you give this one a try, let me know what you think. 

Alice Waters Swiss chard gratin (serves 4)–as posted on Auntie Em’s site

1 and 1/2 bunches of chard
1-cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons melted butter
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced (or 4 spring onions)
Salt
2 teaspoons flour
1/2-cup milk
A few strokes of freshly grated nutmeg

1. Wash and stem the chard. Save half the stems and slice them thin. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil and cooked the sliced stems for 2 minutes. Add the chard leaves and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid from the stems and leaves and coarsely chop them.

2. Toss together the breadcrumbs and the melted butter. Toast on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven, stirring now and then, until lightly brown, about 10 minutes.

3. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the diced onion. Cook over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard and season with salt. Cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Then add the milk and nutmeg and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more milk if the mixture gets too thick. The chard should be moist but not floating in liquid. Taste and add salt if needed.

4. Butter a small baking dish. Spread the chard mixture evenly in the dish and dot with the remaining butter, cut into bits. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Bake in a 350-degree oven until the gratin is golden and bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.

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