Swiss chard is my favorite green leafy vegetable. It is more flavorful than kale, cooks faster and the stems, which come in rainbow colors, are edible.
In this recipe they are sautéed and the leaves are wilted before being sauced. The cream sauce couldn't be simpler. Just bring heavy cream to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken. No need to make a roux or add other thickeners.
The topping of Parmesan cheese and toasted breadcrumbs adds the crunchy gratin texture and perfectly complements the creamy Swiss chard.
To prepare the chard, rinse it thoroughly to remove any grit and then pat dry. Holding the stem of the Swiss chard, run a 7-5/8" Petite Chef knife along them to remove the the leaves. Both the leaves and stems are edible. To learn how to cut Swiss chard, follow our handy step-by-step inforgraphic.
Swiss Chard Gratin
- 1 bunch Swiss chard (about a pound), washed and drained
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus more for greasing the gratin dish
- 1/2 cup coarse breadcrumbs
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Remove stems from the Swiss chard and slice them crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Cut leaves into strips about 1/2-inch wide. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a large non-stick skillet. Add breadcrumbs and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until breadcrumbs are lightly toasted. Pour into a shallow bowl and set aside to cool. (No need to wipe out pan.)
- Heat the oven to 400 F. Butter a shallow 5- or 6-cup ceramic gratin dish or shallow baking dish; set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the garlic and cream to a boil (taking care that it doesn’t boil over). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes until cream is reduced to about 3/4 cup. Remove garlic gloves from the cream and stir in ¼ teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Let the cream cool slightly, stirring occasionally.
- In the skillet used to toast breadcrumbs, heat the oil. Add the chard stems and sauté them over medium-high heat until they’re browned on the edges, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the chard leaves (in batches if necessary), the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and toss to combine. Sauté until the leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes. Spread the chard evenly into the prepared gratin dish using tongs or a slotted spoon, leaving any excess liquid in the sauté pan. Sprinkle the cheese on the chard in the dish and then pour the seasoned heavy cream over all. Top with the buttered breadcrumbs and bake for 25 minutes, or until the gratin is bubbling at the edges of the dish. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.