Monday, March 11, 2013

Swiss chard and greens gratin

Along with winter squash comes armloads of greens in the winter. Although I love braising greens, variety is a welcome change.  Some of my go to recipes for Swiss chard are braised greens in a taco with chipotle sauce, Swiss chard soup with chick peas, chard ragu over pasta, Swiss chard lasagna, orchiette with arugula and Swiss chard.

Typically gratins are full of cheese and heavy cream, and while this gratin satisfies just as much as another, it is much healthier.

Blanch Swiss chard and any other greens (like spinach, beet greens, and turnip greens) in boiling salted water, drain, cool, and squeeze out excess water. 

Saute onion, garlic, and a touch of crushed red pepper, then add greens.  The secret to making the gratin thick and creamy is to sprinkle a little flour over the cooked greens before adding whole milk.

To make the gratin crisp, make sure the greens are relatively dry and be sure to toss the bread crumbs with melted butter and toast in the oven until crispy and slightly brown.  The result will be a perfectly crisp, satisfying gratin.  No one would suspect that it is healthy.

Swiss Chard Gratin
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems chopped into 1/4" pieces and kept separate from leaves
1 bunch spinach, tough stems removed
1 bunch turnip greens, tough stems removed
1 onion, diced
1 fat clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
4 tsp flour
1 cup whole milk
freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
4 tbsp butter, divided

Preheat oven to 350.  Melt 1 tbsp butter and toss with fresh bread crumbs. Spread in a single layer on a baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Increase oven temperature to 400.

Bring water to a boil in a large pot, salt, and add Swiss chard stems.  Cook for 5-6 minutes, until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon or spider skimmer and set aside. Add Swiss chard leaves to same boiling water, cook for 4 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and set in a colander to drain.  Repeat with spinach, cooking 2 minutes, and repeat again for turnip greens, cooking for 3 minutes.  Once greens are cool, use your hands to squeeze out excess water. Chop coarsley.

With the same saucepan dry and melt 3 tbsp butter over moderately high heat.  Add onion, cooking until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, cooking for 1 minute.  Add chopped greens, stir to coat well, and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Sprinkle greens with flour and stir to mix well.  Add milk and bring to a boil, cook for 3-4 minutes. The mixture should not be too wet otherwise the gratin will not crispen.

Butter the bottom of a baking dish.  Add greens mixture and spread into an even layer.  Top with toasted bread crumbs.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until crisp at 400 degrees.


  1. I have been looking for a lighter gratin recipe, and clearly I've found it! Thank you for sharing!

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