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17 March 2011 @ 09:42 pm
The Castro Farmers Market opened for the season recently and after a quick stroll through, I headed home with enough fresh produce to keep me busy… for a day or two. In fact, all of the ingredients for this recipe, except for the cream, flour and seasonings were purchased there.

Leafy vegetables are in season with mounds of rainbow chard available. The bright red and yellow stalks of rainbow chard grabbed my attention. Yet despite the chard’s promise of spring, I felt it needed to be prepared in a way that remembers it can still be quite chilly outside. A gratin seemed like the right choice for me here.


I used Monterey Jack here, but a hearty gruyere or swiss would also be great. Don’t worry if the sauce seems too thick while mixing it with the chard. As the gratin bakes, the chard will release liquid and the sauce will thin out considerably. Letting the gratin stand after baking lets the otherwise soupy sauce thicken a little before serving.

2 bunches rainbow chard
5 ounces bacon
1 medium onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp nutmeg
¼ cup flour
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz Monterey jack, shredded
1 Tbsp butter plus more as needed
Salt & pepper as needed

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Wash chard and trim stems off. Chop stems into ¼” slices and chop leaves into ½” strips.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add stems and cook for 5 minutes before adding leaves and cooking for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until they begin to wilt. Drain well reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Set aside.
  4. Cut bacon into ½ inch pieces and render in heavy bottomed pot until crispy. Remove from pot and set aside.
  5. Melt butter in bacon fat. Add nutmeg, onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add flour and cook quickly until flour had coated vegetables.
  6. Add reserved cooking liquid and heavy cream. Allow to thicken and then add cheese. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Coat chard and reserved bacon with sauce and pour into buttered baking dish and spread into an even layer.
  8. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes on a baking sheet (in case it boils over) until browned on top. Allow to stand for 15 minutes before serving.


    I have to admit that I made this around 10am this morning and by 6pm I had eaten all of it myself.

    (This article appears in another format at http://exm.nr/fPm9V8)