Swiss Chard and Potato Gratin Recipe

Swiss chard and potato gratin | Pamela Salzman

A good friend from college gave a speech at our wedding about my husband’s penchant for all things that start with the letter “P.”  It was something I hadn’t thought of until then, but all my husband’s favorites do begin with P — Pamela (that’s me!), Penn (where we went to college,) Pittsburgh and their sports teams like the Pirates and Penguins, pizza (his favorite food), pasta (his second favorite food) and anything with Parmesan cheese.  Almost 19 years later, despite living in LA and eating my food every day which I assure you is not a lot of pizza and pasta, the man is still the same.  And that’s a-ok with me since I’m still in the picture, too.

getting prepped

In the same way I can get our son, aka Mr. Picky, to eat almost anything in a corn tortilla, I can pretty much ensure success with my husband if I put Parmesan cheese on it.  He even takes the liberty of adding Parmesan cheese where it may not really belong, but it’s his default if he thinks the dish needs improvement.  And if we’re out of Parmesan, no problem!  He’ll reach for the Pecorino, naturally.  I saw this recipe on the Whole Foods website for a Swiss chard and potato cake that looked divine, but was loaded with gruyere which doesn’t always agree with me in large quantities.  So I lightened it up a bit with Parmesan and we all loved it (except for Mr. Picky who would not try it because he is, ironically, Parmesan-averse.)  Not so easy my job, is it?

layering onions, potatoes, chard leaves and Parmesan

Dark green leafy vegetables are so abundant right now and always the perfect, super-nutritious addition to any meal.  I think this recipe, which is warm and hearty, is ideal for the transition into spring.  (Don’t worry, it will feel like spring soon!)  I haven’t tried this with any other leafy green, but I do think chard is perfect for the job.  I love bitter greens, and if you do too, I have no doubt kale would be great here.  I think spinach is a little too watery, but I could be wrong.

cover first with parchment and then with aluminum

This gratin would be perfect for Easter brunch or dinner, especially if you’re serving lamb or poultry.  Couldn’t you also imagine this with a side of soft scrambled eggs and a fresh baby greens salad?  Love it!  Of course you don’t need a special occasion to serve this, just a bit of time to allow this to cook.  So perhaps it’s not ideal for weeknights if you arrive home at 6:30 and you’d like to eat by 7:00.  Although I love this room temp and it reheats well (if that helps.)  Feel free (unless you’re married to my husband) to substitute Daiya vegan cheese for the Parmesan and to use all olive oil if you’d like to make this vegan or dairy-free.  Any way you make this, it’s a whole lot of goodness.

Swiss chard and potato gratin | Pamela Salzman

Swiss chard and potato gratin | Pamela Salzman

 

 

Swiss Chard and Potato Gratin
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium russet (about ¾ pound) or Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced ⅛” thick
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, thick stems diced, leaves coarsely chopped
  • ½ - ¾ cup (depending on how much you like) grated pecorino romano or parmiggiano-reggiano
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat butter and oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, diced chard stems and cook until onions are translucent and stems are softened, about 5 minutes. Spread onion mixture evenly in the bottom of the skillet and remove skillet from heat.
  2. Place chard leaves in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat.
  3. Arrange a third of the potatoes in a single layer on top of the onions in the bottom of the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, top with a third of the Swiss chard and scatter ¼ cup of the cheese over the top. Repeat the process to layer the ingredients two more times, ending with the cheese.
  4. Cover skillet tightly with a lightly oiled piece of parchment paper then aluminum foil and bake until potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 1 hour. Gently remove the foil then return skillet to the oven and bake until cheese is browned on the top, about 10 minutes.
  5. Set aside to rest briefly, then slice into wedges and serve.

Grilled broccolini with lemon-parmesan breadcrumbs recipe

Every food magazine seems to be offering an entire grilling issue this month and for good reason.  In most parts of the country, summer is “the” season for outdoor cooking and grilling is an easy and tasty way to prepare a wide variety of foods we love.  If you’ve been hanging out at this site for a bit, you probably know that I’m not so fond of grilling animal protein too often since it can be carcinogenic.  Since this is not the case for other foods, I will, however, grill just about anything else from vegetables and fruit to potatoes and pizzas.

Although many of my students ask me for new ways to prepare chicken and fish, I tend to keep the animal protein simple and focus on interesting ways to cook my favorite food group, vegetables.  And I am always on the lookout for interesting, new vegetables to cook.  Enter broccolini!  I had never heard of broccolini until probably six or seven years ago, although it has been around since about 1998.  It is sometimes referred to as “Baby Broccoli,” “Chinese Kale” or the very appetizing name “Aspiration” (Who in the world came up with that one?  Certainly no one with picky kids.)  Broccolini is technically a hybrid between regular broccoli and Chinese kale, but it has a more tender stem and sweeter flavor than both.  Some people think it tastes like a cross between asparagus and broccoli and that seems pretty accurate to me.  However you call it, we love, love, love it!

Broccolini and all its cruciferous cousins are vegetables you want to include regularly in the meal rotation since they are nutritional powerhouses with lots of anti-cancer compounds.  We eat a lot of broccolini and broccoli, so I am all about mixing it up a bit so we don’t get bored with the same old, same old.  Broccolini is just made for the grill.  Its tender stems cook as quickly as asparagus do and the grill adds a fabulous charred flavor to the florets.  Normal broccoli tastes fabulous on the grill too, but you have to slice the thick stems in order for it to cook properly and then it looks a little awkward.

This is hardly a recipe and at its simplest you just coat the broccolini in olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and grill few minutes on each side.  The only trick is to avoid burning the florets which is possible if you just stay at the grill the whole time and don’t leave to check your email.  Done.  This is super easy for weeknights and cool enough to serve to your foodie friends.  If a simply grilled vegetable isn’t sophisticated enough for you, you can brush the cut side of a couple lemons with olive oil and grill them cut-side down for a few minutes to squeeze on the broccolini with or without a dusting of Parmesan cheese.  Or, make these ridiculously addictive Lemon-Parmesan Breadcrumbs which are so good on these broccolini as well as grilled asparagus, pasta, roasted cherry tomatoes and just about a hundred other things.  I have successfully used many different gluten-free breads to make them, used Pecorino (sheep cheese) instead of Parmesan (cow), and eliminated the cheese altogether.  I’ve heard the saying, “you can’t make everyone happy.”  I’m not so sure about that!

Grilled Broccolini with Lemon-Parmesan Breadcrumbs
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 bunches broccolini, washed, dried, dry ends trimmed (about 1 pound)
  • Unrefined olive oil for drizzling the broccolini + 2 Tablespoons
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • A few slices of fresh bread or a roll, but nothing too “flavored,” hard crusts removed
  • 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
Instructions
  1. Preheat a grill over medium heat. Too hot and the florets will burn. Not hot enough and you won’t get a char.
  2. Drizzle the broccolini with oil and toss with your hands until they’re evenly coated. (I put them on a sheet pan.) Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Make the breadcrumbs: cut the bread into cubes and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process into crumbs. Measure 1 cup of crumbs.
  4. In a small bowl, combine crumbs with Parmesan, lemon zest and a pinch of salt.
  5. Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the breadcrumb mixture and the garlic. Toast the breadcrumbs, stirring frequently until they start to turn golden brown, like toast. Carefully taste the breadcrumbs to make sure they’re crunchy, but don’t burn your mouth doing it. When they’re done, immediately transfer to a bowl, otherwise they’ll burn sitting in the pan. Remove garlic and discard.
  6. Place broccolini on the grill and cook until tender, but slightly charred, about 3 minutes. Flip over and cook the other side another 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the broccolini. Place on a platter and scatter the breadcrumbs on top or serve separately.
Notes
You can skip the breadcrumbs and serve instead with lemon wedges and/or shaved or grated Parmesan.