Swiss Chard Gratin

Swiss Chard is my favorite green. Mild and even sweet, it's a great gateway green on the path to eating stronger-flavored ones such as kale, collards, beet and mustard greens,

This recipe uses both the leaves and stems so nothing goes to waste, and if you cook them in an oven-proof skillet, it can go straight into the oven and you can save yourself from washing a separate gratin dish. I purposely didn't give exact quantities, because well, you don't really need them. Just taste as you cook to determine if you'd like more salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice or whatever you fancy. Trust your tastebuds!

Swiss Chard Gratin 
Serves 4-5

1 bunch of chard

Separate chard leaves from stems. I like to hold the leaf upside down, then with a chef's knife run the blade down along one side of the stem, then down along the other side. Set the leaves aside as you prepare the stems.

Chop stems finely.

In a large pan (with close-fitting lid), saute stems in:
a pat of butter and a glug of olive oil
along with:
1 medium onion, diced 

When the oil has been absorbed and it sounds like the stems are starting to fry more than saute, add a little water (to a depth of about 1/8"), cover with lid and cook 10-15 minutes You want the onions and stems to soften. Check every once in awhile and try a few pieces to see if they have softened a bit. It's ok if they still have a little bite as they'll soften more in the oven. Add more water if needed to prevent them from burning.

Meanwhile, stack leaves and cut crosswise into 1/2" ribbons.

Add leaves to pan, doing so in stages if pan is not big enough to accommodate all at once. Continue cooking so leaves wilt and soften and until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with:
pinch of nutmeg

Add, depending on how creamy you like it:
1/4c to 1/2c heavy cream

Stir to combine and heat gently just to warm the cream. Taste again and make any adjustments. I like to add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if I feel the greens could be sweeter. I know that sounds like the opposite of what you should do, but what you're actually tasting is a bit of bitterness which is balanced by adding acid (lemon juice, vinegar). If your pan is not oven-proof, transfer chard to a gratin or casserole dish (approx. 9" round).

Top with:
3/4c bread crumbs seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and grated parmesan cheese
I would go easy on the salt as the parmesan is already salty. Plus, if you've seasoned the chard well, you shouldn't need much salt in the bread topping.

Spray the top lightly with oil. Bake at 400°F for 20-30 minutes or until crust is brown and toasty and gratin bubbles at the edges. Did I mention my kids love this?!

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