Monday, 23 April 2007

Chard Very Much

Chard is one of my favourite green vegetables, and one that I have only really started using prolifically in the past two years. I was reminded of its beauty with a request from our Freddie of The Great Big Vegetable Challenge to suggest a recipe using this amazing leaf.

Chard is closely related to the Sea Beet, and has the most distinctive of sweet and earthy tastes that distinguishes it from spinach. In my opinion, chard is superior to spinach in both texture and taste. When it is young, it can be picked and eaten immediately as a salad leaf, such as in my pigeon and artichoke salad. This is when you will taste the true sweetness that only a freshly picked young leaf can yield. A larger leaf becomes a tougher specimen that needs a bit of cooking. That is when you can arrange it in a multitude of hot dishes, as it will wilt but still retain a bit of texture and lots of taste.

The following dish should eradicate any doubt anybody has on this amazing vegetable. A gratin can of course be eaten as a dish in its own right. But it works perfectly as a side dish to roast chicken or pork. The slightly bitter stems of a larger plant will add a subtle backdrop to the sauce. Experiment with the cheese and think about adding a bit of mustard. I just hope it passes the Freddie test!

Chard and Potato Gratin

500g Chard
75g butter
2tbsp plain flour
100g cheddar cheese, grated
500g potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1cm slices
3 garlic cloves, crushed
600ml milk
salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to GM6, 200 degrees C

1 - Chop the green part of the chard leaves then cut the stalks into short lengths and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the green leaves and continue to cook for a few minutes.
2 - Cut potatoes and cut into 1cm slices. Boil for 5 minutes until just tender.
3 - Butter a baking dish and layer with half of the potatoes, the chard and then the remaining potatoes.
4 - Heat the butter then add the crushed garlic. Stir in the flour and continue stirring for 1 min.
5 - Add the milk bit by bit, stirring until the sauce thickens.
6 - Add half the grated cheese, season.
7 - Pour the sauce over the vegetables and top with the remaining cheese. Place on the middle shelf and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbly.


theboydonefood said...

how do you not weigh about three tons? Your recipes always get my mouth watering, and I can only ever manage a few mouthfuls of mine before i feel the calories piling up!

Greatbigvegchallenge said...

Fantastic David - we will enjoy making this recipe.
Freddie and CHarlotte

Great Big Veg Challenge said...

Have made the gratin - all I will say is you didn't let us down!
Have a read...and a great weekend.
We are apparently on Page 3 of the weekend section of the telegraph this Saturday so you may see increase traffic as people come through to your fab recipe.
Charlotte and Freddie

Holler said...

Hi David,
Saw your recipe on the Great Big Vegetable Challenge blog. Looks very appetising! I am going to give it a go!