Despite the name, this leafy green isn’t actually Swiss. It’s Sicilian, or so the plant sages say. It’s also one of the healthiest foods in the world, housing a slew of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that chef Nick Marckwald of Hen of the Woods, a pop-up dinner series, likes to incorporate in his summertime dishes when the chard is bountiful, affordable, and at the peak of freshness. Its mild taste, versatility, and flavor fusion with sunchokes makes for a crunchy, savory gratin that’s sure to please health- and flavor-conscious eaters alike.
Recipe: Swiss Chard and Sunchoke Gratin
For the gratin
2 bunches Swiss chard
1 lb sunchokes, peeled and diced
2 shallots, sliced
3 thyme sprigs
2 Tbsp olive oil
¾ cup dry white wine
3 oz butter, chilled and cut into ½ inch cubes
½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 pinch nutmeg
salt to taste
In a small sauté pot over low heat, sweat shallots and thyme in olive oil for 5 minutes. Deglaze with wine and reduce by half. Add sunchokes and cover with 1 inch of water. Bring to a low boil and cook for approximately 20 minutes, until fork tender.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sunchokes into a blender and reserve the cooking liquid. Add about ¼ cup of the cooking liquid and process on low speed. Switch to high speed, adding more liquid as necessary to create a vortex. Add the cold butter, a piece at a time. Blend until completely emulsified, then season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Set aside.
Chop the chard leaves into bite-sized pieces, and finely slice the stems. Blanch the leaves for 30 seconds and the stems for one minute, then shock both in an ice water bath. When cool, remove and drain completely.
For the topping
1 cup panko bread crumbs
10 thyme sprigs
½ cup parmesan, freshly grated
2 oz butter, melted
2 tsp kosher salt
Combine the panko, thyme, parmesan, salt, and butter in a large sauté pan and toast until lightly browned.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To assemble, combine chard leaves and stems with sunchoke puree. Pour into an 8 x 10 gratin dish and top evenly with bread crumb mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes. Brown topping under broiler and allow to cool slightly before serving.
Originally published in the June 2014 issue