Chard Gratin

from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food

  • 1 1/2 bunches chard, washed and stemmed, saving half of the stems
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • Butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

1. After washing and stemming the chard, save half the chard stems and slice them thinly. Cook the stems for about 2 minutes in 2 quarts boiling salted water. 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 the breadcrumbs with 2 teaspoons melted butter. Toast them on a baking sheet in a 350 degrees F oven, stirring now and then, until lightly brown, about 10 minutes.

3. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the diced onion and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons flour over the onion-chard mix. Stir well and add 1/2 cup milk and a little freshly grated nutmeg. 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 2 teaspoons butter. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven until the gratin is golden and bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.