I decided to try this Swiss chard recipe since chard has been a staple in my CSA basket the past few times. This recipe cooks a lot of chard in boiling salted water before being rinsed, drained and thoroughly dried in a clean kitchen towel to remove all the water. Once the chard was cooled, half of it went in a casserole, topped with a roasted garlic bechamel sauce, sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and layers were repeated. The entire casserole was popped in a hot oven about 20 minutes until the top was just golden.
The chard was served over a toasted length of a baguette to make a Swiss Chard au Gratin French Bread Pizza. This dish was very creamy and cheesy and was a very unusual topping for a French bread pizza.
Swiss Chard au Gratin French Bread Pizza
Adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds Swiss chard or rainbow chard (3 or 4 large bunches)
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Roasted Garlic Paste (recipe follows)
2 cups shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
One 24-inch French Bread
Roasted Garlic Paste:
2 heads garlic, tops trimmed off to expose all of the cloves
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoons honey
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the Roasted Garlic Paste:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Arrange the garlic on a piece of foil and drizzle with the tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap up the garlic in the foil to make a tightly sealed pouch. Roast until very tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool, then squeeze the garlic from the skins into a food processor. Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and the honey and season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth, then transfer to a small container. (Alternatively, you can mash the garlic paste with a fork instead of using a food processor.)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove them stems from the chard but keep the leaves whole. Add the chard to the boiling water (the pot will be packed at first) and cook for 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and run under cool water. Drain again, then wrap the chard in a kitchen towel and squeeze to remove the excess water. Chop the chard.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Stir in half of the Roasted Garlic Paste.
Spread half the chard in the bottom of a medium casserole dish. Top with half the garlic sauce and half the cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with the cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove the casserole from the oven and turn on the broiler.
Halve the bread lengthwise, then cut in half crosswise to make four 12-inch-long pieces. Broil the bread, cut-side up, until charred, about 1 minute. Slather with the remaining Roasted Garlic Paste and top each piece with one-quarter of the chard au gratin. Serve immediately.