This is a lovely dish. This will be eaten completely with no waste. This, however, is not a spectacular dish, but it could be. Greens are important for good health, this gratin uses a lot of them, which is why I was drawn to the recipe. Oh and also because we grew the chard in our garden.
When I make a recipe from one of the cookbooks, I try to make it exactly as the book instructs. That way I can fairly and with accuracy (based upon 40+ years of cooking and 50+ years of eating) say if is worth making/eating again. And as I first stated, this is a lovely dish, but it is not as good as the sum of the parts. It would be better if it was more robust, and I will offer suggestions to create such a dish.
Chard, White Bean, Sweet Potato Gratin
adapted from: spilling the beans
1 small onion finely chopped - use a medium-large onion and dice it
2 bunches chard, leaves and stems both cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 t crushed red pepper - use standard judgment for your family's preferences
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 c milk
2 cloves garlic crushed - 4 cloves garlic finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
fresh grated nutmeg
1 large or equal amount of smaller sweet potatoes, peeled and cut 1/8 inch thick - do not use more sweet potato you only want a thin (single) layer under the chard, use a mandolin or food processor to get really thin slices if needed. Too much sweet potato makes the dish bland.
2 c cooked white beans or 1- 16 oz can beans drained and rinsed
1/2 t finely crushed thyme leaves
freshly grated nutmeg
1 c coarsely grated Gruyere, old cheddar or Gouda cheese - 2 c grated Smoked Gouda
Drizzle oil in a large pan, add onion and saute until onion is golden brown. Add chard (in batches if necessary) season with salt and pepper to taste, cook until the chard wilts and cooks, and there is no moisture left in the pan. Stir in the crushed red pepper and transfer to a bowl. Taste again and season with salt if needed. You want the chard to be flavorful, but not salty.
Using the same pan, add butter to the pan, when melted stir in the flour. Cook and stir over medium, add garlic and milk. Let simmer until thickened, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Use freshly grated if possible and don't be stingy!
half the sweet potato slices in a single layer,
half the beans sprinkled with half of the thyme,
half of the chard mixture,
season with salt and pepper and fresh nutmeg,
cover with half the white sauce and half the cheese
Cover baking dish with foil, bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake additional 15 minutes.
My Note: If you prefer a darker cheese finish, you may broil for a moment or two, keep an eye on this, hot cheese browns up quickly. I did use the broiler, however, it clearly was a bad lighting moment!
Let rest 10 minutes and serve.
Serves 6 as a main dish, 8 or more as a side dish.
We had a simple dinner of sliced tomatoes and whole grain buttered bread with the Gratin, a lovely meal, but I will be making this again (there is chard in the freezer for winter eating) and will be incorporating the additional ingredients.
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