Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Wholesome Good - Autumn Gratin

I recently received a veg box with chard in it.  Chard is interesting because it's so colorful, but other than the color, it's a kind of bitter, dark, leafy green that just doesn't do it for me. 
I mean, it's fine in moderation but I had a big ol' bag of it and didn't know what to do. 

So, I turned to trusty Google and once again Alice Waters was my guide.
You can find the original recipe on seriouseats.com.  I tweaked my version a bit due to a) having a lot of kale still in the garden b) being lazy and c) feeling the need to add cheese and garlic to everything I do. 

Here's what I did:

Get a bunch of chard.  The original recipe called for "three bunches" but unless you're buying in a grocery store and all grocery stores use the same measurements for sale, there's no way to accurately judge what is meant by "three bunches" so I just used what I had and tweaked proportions where necessary.
A bunch of kale - however much you want, or just leave it out.
Breadcrumbs - maybe about a cup.  I ran out to just used what I had.
Butter - the original recipe calls for 5tbsp but do what you want with it.  Use olive oil if you want for cooking the veggies, but I'd recommend sticking with butter to go with the breadcrumbs.
1 onion
2 cloves garlic 
1/3 C pine nuts (toasted)*
4 tsp flour
1 C milk
salt, pepper, parmesan and nutmeg to taste

Start by tossing your breadcrumbs in melted butter and set aside for later.  I didn't toast because I was putting it in the oven and figured that step would be redundant. 
Wash your chard and remove the stems - keep half or so of them and chop them finely.  Wash and de-stem your kale. 
Cook your onion and garlic in butter or olive oil until soft (5-7 minutes)- while this is cooking, toast up your pine nuts.  I usually do this in a frying pan.  Keep the nuts moving so they don't burn and toast until fragrant.  Set them aside when done.

Add your kale, chard and chard stalks in with the onion and garlic and cook for about 3-5 minutes until they're wilted to your liking.

You will see that I didn't pre-cook the greens.  I didn't think it was necessary to cook them three times (boil, fry, bake) but go for it if you really want to. 
Add the flour and cook for 30 seconds or so, and then add the milk and stir until everything is mixed.  Now add in your nutmeg, salt, parmesan and pepper to taste.  I like the addition of parmesan to give this a bit of cheesy-ness, but feel free to leave it out or put in cheddar or whatever you like.
When the seasonings are all to your liking, stir in your pine nuts.

Pop the mixture into a small casserole dish and top with your buttery bread crumbs.  Bake at 180C/350F for about 20 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden and it looks super tasty.

I would say this works equally well as a main or a side, but it's up to you. 

* I totally didn't add the pine nuts when I made this, but I served it with a salad that included pine nuts and we both agreed that the flavours went really well together.  Plus it was a good bit of nutty crunch for an interesting texture. 

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