Swiss chard is not the sexiest of greens. In the right hands it can be good, occasionally very good, but usually doesn’t elicit much more than a grudging “okay” when nominated for dinner. For most people, it’s big spinach. But chard is earthy and pretty and grew crazily well for us this year. And finally, I have the recipe I’ve been needing since, oh, May. It’s from Tender, a fantastic vegetable-focused cookbook by Nigel Slater I received for Christmas and haven’t cooked enough out of (judging by the success of such rocking, simple recipes as this). Simply blanch a pound of chard and then throw it in the oven with some cream, whole grain mustard and grated parm. That’s really it, but it’s good enough to have vaulted to the front of the Swiss chard recipe line. We’ve made it twice since last week. Feel free to cut back on the cream a bit and add a little extra whole grain mustard. Or not; it’s up to you.
Serves 4 as a side
1 pound chard, stems and leaves
Butter, for the baking dish
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
A handful of grated parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the chard leaves from the stems. Chop the stems into short lengths, then cook briefly in boiling, lightly salted water until crisply tender. Remove the stems. Drip the leaves in the boiling water briefly, until they relax. Drain, let cool, and wring out the leaves. Spread the stems and leaves in a buttered shallow ovenproof dish. Put the mustard in a bowl and stir in the cream and a grinding of salt and black pepper. Pour the seasoned cream over the stems and leaves, cover with grated Parmesan, and bake, 35 to 40 minutes, until the top has a light crust the color of honey.