July: Gobble: Swiss Chard Gratin
by Village England luxury leather hand bags
A classic of the British allotment, Swiss Chard is in season from the beginning of July. It comes in a multitude of colours - our favourite is Rainbow Chard. Completely delicous steamed and tossed in melted garlic butter, it also works well in a creamy gratin; lovely as a side dish with a roast dinner, or as the main event, with crusty bread and a Dijon-dressed leafy salad.
3 bunches chard, washed and stemmed (save half the stems)
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
5 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
Salt to taste
4 teaspoons flour
1 cup milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Thinly slice the reserved chard stems, add them to the water, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the leaves and continue cooking until tender, about 3-4 minutes longer. Drain and allow to cool, then gently squeeze out the excess liquid and coarsely chop.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 tablespoons of butter and toss the breadcrumbs, then spread them out on a small baking sheet. Toast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, then add the onion. Sweat until translucent, 5-7 minutes, then stir in the chard and a couple pinches of salt. Cook for 3 minutes, then sprinkle the flour over the chard and stir well to coat. Add the milk and nutmeg and bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes as the mixture thickens. The chard should be just moist, but not overly wet, or else the gratin won't brown properly. Taste and season with salt.
Butter a baking dish and spread the chard mixture evenly in the dish. Dot with the remaining butter and top with the breadcrumbs (you could add in roughly chopped hazelnuts for extra crunch). Bake at 350 degrees until golden and bubbling, 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then serve.
Recipe credit to Alice Waters, taken from The Art of Simple Food.
Image credit Blake Royer.