Chard gratin

A fantastic meal-in-one recipe, which is delicious just as it is, served with a few potatoes. It’s also lovely with good olives cut in half and added to the chard. Or you can add mussels cooked in white wine – a Provençal version – which we had as the first course of our wedding dinner. 

For 6-8

  • 1.5kg Swiss chard
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 anchovies in olive oil, drained (or rinsed salted), finely chopped
  • 50–75g butter
  • A few stems of fresh marjoram (if available)
  • Plenty of grated nutmeg
  • 275ml double cream
  • Parmesan cheese, to grate over the top

For the mussels (optional):

  • 1kg mussels
  • 30g butter, plus some for the dish
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 250ml white wine

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Put a pan of salted water on to boil.

Strip the green leaves from the chard stalks and cut the stalks about 1cm wide across. Wash both leaves and stalks in a colander. Cook the stalks in the boiling salted water. When they’re just cooked (no longer resistant to the point of a knife), remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a tea towel. 

Blanch the greens for about 2–3 minutes, remove and drain any excess water, pushing with the back of a spoon in a colander or sieve, or twist in a tea towel. Then coarsely chop.

Chop the garlic finely and heat in a pan with the olive oil. When the garlic begins to colour, add the finely chopped anchovies. Add the chard stalks and cook gently until the anchovies start to dissolve. Remove from the heat.

To cook the mussels, if you are using them, debeard and clean them, discarding any open ones that don’t close when tapped. Melt the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Add the finely chopped onion and garlic, and sweat until translucent. 

Add the mussels with the wine and cook them for 3 minutes until they open, but no more. 

Drain the mussels and allow to cool enough for you to be able to handle them, then remove from the shells.

Roughly butter a baking dish and spoon in the chard stalks and anchovy to cover the base of the dish, then scatter over half the shelled mussels, if you are using them. Lay the green chard leaves lightly over the top. Scatter the marjoram, grated nutmeg and remaining shelled mussels over them.

Pour over the cream. Season with salt and pepper and grate some Parmesan over the top. Some of the chard will be uncovered and some submerged. Cook the gratin in the preheated oven for 25–30 minutes.

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