Coste di bieta gratinate (Gratinéed Swiss Chard St…

There are few things that bother me more than throwing out food, so I’m often looking for ways to recycle leftovers, use up stray bits of veg and other stuff in the fridge or, as in today’s recipe, make good use of trimmings. I often use trimmings as a flavor booster, as when I add, say, asparagus peelings to the broth for asparagus risotto. But sometimes the “trimmings” are actually worth eating for their own sake.

Last week we featured erbazzone, a savory pie made with a Swiss chard filling. Swiss chard is a versatile vegetable. While you can use both leaves and stems for the filling, if you opt to use only the leaves, you shouldn’t throw the stems (or ribs) away. They make good eating themselves. With a mild beet-like flavor and crunchy texture, there are all manner of uses for them in the Italian kitchen.

Today’s recipe is one of my favorite and also one of the simplest ways to prepare Swiss chard stems: simply parboiled, napped in béchamel, sprinkled with cheese and butter and gratinéed in the oven until golden brown on top. And if you’d like to make a more substantial dish, you can intersperse the stems with layers of ham and cheese, a more elaborate version sometimes referred to as a parmigiana.

Ingredients

Serves 2-4

  • Stems from 2 bunches of Swiss chard stems, about 300g/10 oz
  • 500ml/2 cups béchamel sauce
  • Butter, q.b.
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, q.b.
  • Salt and pepper

Optional:

  • Slices of mozzarella or scamorza
  • Slices of cooked ham
  • Bread crumbs

Directions

Trim the steam top and bottom, then cut them into lengths. Parboil in well salted water until tender, about 5-10 minutes depending on their size. Drain and let cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the béchamel sauce following the directions in this post.

Grease the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold all the chard stems in one or two layers (or, if you prefer, individual dishes as pictured here). Lay on a layer of chard stems, topped with slices of ham and/or mozzarella if using, then nap with béchamel and top everything with a good dusting of Parmesan. Repeat until the chard is used up. Top with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs, if using. Finally, dot the top with bits of butter.

Bake in a moderately hot (190C/375F) oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the top is nicely brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

Gratinéed Swiss Chard Stems (Coste di bieta al forno)

Notes

Swiss chard stems vary in color tremendously. They’re often sold in “rainbow” bunches to show off their variety. Apart from the tradition white, their stems and ribs can be various shades of red, pink, green or yellow. Personally I don’t find much difference in taste among them, but mixing different colors certain add visual interest to a dish like this.

Other ways to prepare Swiss chard stems

Besides baking, there are any number of other treatments for using the trimmed stems and ribs of Swiss chard. Here are just a few options:

  • all’agro: perhaps the simplest method of all, just parboiled and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice
  • ripassate in padella: parboiled and sautéed in olive oil and garlic, perhaps dressed up with some capers and olive
  • as a frittata, parboiled, perhaps sautéed in butter or oil, and mixed with eggs and grated cheese and fried into a flat omelette
  • as a sformato:parboiled, cut into small pieces, and baked with a flan-like mixture of béchamel and egg
  • as a risotto: the chopped stems (and any leftover leaves) make a fine flavor base for a risotto
  • fritte, battered and fried, in typical Angelina style: parboiled, then dipped in flour and then seasoned egg and then shallow-fried in olive oil, or perhaps with a flour and water batter, and
  • if they’re rather large, made like as a parmigiana: battered and fried as above, then layered in a baking dish with tomato sauce, slices of mozzarella and lots of grated Parmesan cheese

Coste di bieta gratinate (Gratinéed Swiss Chard Stems)

Coste di bieta gratinate (Gratinéed Swiss Chard Stems)

Ingredients

  • Stems from 2 bunches of Swiss chard stems, about 300g/10 oz
  • 500ml/2 cups béchamel sauce
  • Butter, q.b.
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, q.b.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional:

  • Slices of mozzarella or scamorza
  • Slices of cooked ham
  • Bread crumbs

Directions

  1. Trim the steam top and bottom, then cut them into lengths. Parboil in well salted water until tender, about 5-10 minutes depending on their size. Drain and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the béchamel sauce following the directions in this post.
  3. Grease the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold all the chard stems in one or two layers (or, if you prefer, individual dishes as pictured here). Lay on a layer of chard stems, topped with slices of ham and/or mozzarella if using, then nap with béchamel and top everything with a good dusting of Parmesan. Repeat until the chard is used up. Top with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs, if using. Finally, dot the top with bits of butter.
  4. Bake in a moderately hot (190C/375F) oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the top is nicely brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

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http://memoriediangelina.com/2018/04/21/swiss-chard-stems/

(c) Frank Fariello

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Post Author: Carmela

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