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Rainbow Chard Stem Gratin

Scott Phillips

Servings: 6

Chard stems are frequently tossed into the compost pile, which is a mistake since they’re sweet, tender, and tasty when cooked properly. The leaves can be steamed and served alongside the gratin or used in any number of ways including simple Sautéed Swiss Chard, or a hearty Chard and Sausage Flatbread.


  • 2 large bunches rainbow chard (about 15 leaves each)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/3 cup lightly toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped


  • Wash the chard and cut the leaves from the center ribs. Set the leaves aside for another use. Trim the tough ends of the stems and discard. Cut the stems crosswise into 3-inch lengths.
  • Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil. Blanch the stems until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and cool in an ice bath.
  • Heat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Meanwhile, put the cream in a small saucepan with 2 thyme sprigs and the garlic clove and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook over very low heat until the cream is reduced by one-third to one-half. You want to end up with 1 to 1-1⁄3 cups. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and set aside.
  • Use the butter to coat a shallow casserole or baking dish and arrange the drained chard stems on the bottom. Strain the cream through a fine-mesh sieve onto the stems. Finely chop the thyme from the remaining sprig and sprinkle on top. Cover with the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, and hazelnuts.
  • Bake the gratin for about 25 minutes, or until the cream has set.


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