An elegant and old fashioned way to serve vegetables is to gratinee them in cream under a blanket of cheese. I like to use leeks for sweetness and ruby chard stems for color and texture, and it’s economical. Why put the chard stems in the compost when they are so tasty served this way!
REC: Gratineed Leeks and Chard Stems
Stems from a bunch of ruby chard or kale
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Heat chicken broth in a large skillet with a lid. While the broth is heating, prepare your vegetables. Cut the leeks in half and remove the first layer, wash thoroughly. Then cut the halved leeks into thirds and try to keep all the layers intact. Cut the chard stems into 2″ lengths.
When the broth is simmering, place the leek sections cut side down in the skillet, then all the chard stems on top. Cover and reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife. You can prepare the vegetables ahead of time, just drain on a paper towel and refrigerate them up to 4 days until ready to gratinee.
Butter a gratin pan or shallow dish that is 10′ x 8″ or so, mine is an oval glazed ceramic dish from Emile Henry, but Pyrex also works well. Using a spatula, lift out the leek pieces, trying to keep them in their intact shape, and tap on the side of the pan to drain, then place in the gratin pan. Add the chard stems over the top, and then pour in the cream. Add salt and pepper, a little grated nutmeg (a few scrapes) and the grated cheese.
Save the leftover broth for your next batch of soup.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the cheese is browned well and the cream is thickened and bubbling.
If you are using a pretty gratin dish you can serve it at the table right in the pan. Leftovers are delicious mixed with pasta or over quinoa.
Note, you can gratin any vegetable this way: zucchini, cauliflower, fennel, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, etc. I like using the chard stems because most people don’t eat them and they are truly fantastic as a side dish to a roasted chicken, a steak or roast or fish.