I have a penchant for dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard. They are versatile, delicious, and, if reports are to be believed, just about the healthiest food we can consume. As a child living in Asia, I ate various greens, often stir-fried in a pan with oil and garlic. That’s still one of the most delightful ways to enjoy them, but these days I include them in all sorts of dishes: cakes and tarts and quiches, scrambled eggs and omelettes, and fresh salads as a side dish with meat or fish. This chard gratin is a wonderful alternative to serving potatoes with a meal and yet another way to help children grow up loving eating greens.
- 2 pounds / 900 g swiss chard
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons / 30 g unsalted butter
- 2½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup / 240 ml whole milk pinch of grated nutmeg
- 1 cup / 90 g grated gruyère cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400F° / 200°C.
- Chop the Swiss chard leaves coarsely and slice the stems into 2-inch / 5 cm pieces.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the chard, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Transfer the mixture to a 12-inch / 30 cm oval baking dish.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until the mixture starts to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thick and creamy, about 10 minutes. Season the béchamel sauce with the nutmeg and salt and pepper.
- Pour the béchamel over the chard in the baking dish, scatter the Gruyère on top, and bake until bubbling and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
Excerpted from French Country Cooking by Mimi Thorisson. Copyright © 2016. Excerpted by permission of Appetite by Random House, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd. a Penguin Random House company. All rights reserved.