How to Cook Swiss Chard: Vegetable Gratin Recipe

How to Cook Swiss Chard: Vegetable Gratin Recipe Recipe

Swiss chard, called blette in French, is a very common winter vegetable.  One of the best way to fight the cold weather winter brings (I'm in Paris right now and it's freezing, literally) is to make a vegetable gratin, and swiss chard makes an excellent gratin.

The preparation is ultra simple. Swiss chard is chopped, sautéed with onions, covered with cheesy white sauce, then baked until golden. It's as easy as 1-2-3. Happy holidays, everyone! Keep warm!


Yields: 6 servings

1 pound swiss chard
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 sage leaf, finely chopped
1-½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk, warm
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/3 cup Fontina cheese, freshly grated


Cooking Swiss chard:

Wash the Swiss chard thoroughly in several baths. Remove and discard the older, fibrous part of the stems. Drain and remove all the excess water using a salad spinner. Roughly chop the leaves.

In a large pan, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for about 6-8 minutes, until caramelized. Add the minced garlic. Cook the garlic for a minute until fragrant. Add the chopped Swiss chard to the pan and constantly toss the greens until they're shiny (coated in oil). The leaves will start to wilt after 30 seconds or so. Season with salt (this will prevent the Swiss chard from changing color and help keep its bright green color). Cover and cook for about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool a little. Transfer the greens to a baking dish, previously greased with oil (they will finish cooking in the oven), with as little liquid as possible. Reserve the excess Swiss chard liquid in a separate small bowl.

For the chamel sauce:

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low; you don't want it to burn.

Add the sage and cook for about 2 minutes until fragrant. Bring the heat back up to medium-high (the butter should be hot and golden) and add the flour. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon for approximately 2 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter and form a paste. Add the warm milk in 3 stages. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 4-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add the goat cheese, 2 tablespoons of Fontina cheese and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another minute. Let the sauce rest until it's time to assemble the dish.

Assembly time:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Thin the sauce with the reserved Swiss chard liquid. Stir well.

Spread ladles of the béchamel sauce to cover the Swiss chard. Finish with a layer of Fontina cheese.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 400°F and broil for about 2-3 minutes to get a nice golden top. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Bon appétit!


If you like, you can sprinkle some finely grated parmesan right before serving.

To make béchamel sauce, the ingredients should be at the same temperature, so make sure to heat the milk in the microwave for about 2 minutes (or in a saucepan), so it's warm. If you get lumpy pieces in the sauce, don't hesitate to use a hand blender.

The sage is not essential to this dish; I just like adding it to flavor the butter for the sauce.

If you're a gratin lover, check out the recipe for creamed pearl onion gratin and my version of mac and cheese.

If you have béchamel sauce left-over, don't discard it. Just store it for later and use it as a sauce for a croque-monsieur sandwich (ham and cheese sandwich).

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on December 27, 2010.


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