Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dark Days of Winter: Potato and Chard Stalk Gratin

True confessions--I have never eaten chard before. When I saw a beautiful basket of rainbow chard at the farmers' market last week, I decided I needed to introduce myself to it, especially since I had to come up with a vegetarian dish for this week's Dark Days Challenge. The beautifully-colored chard was a great antidote to the Challenge slump I'd written about a month ago. I'm also still working my way through the bag of local potatoes I bought at the farmers' market, so when I found this potato and chard stalk gratin recipe, I thought the combination would be great.

{potato and chard stalk gratin}

In order to comply with the Challenge rules and make up for some poor planning on my part, I made several modifications to the recipe:
  1. I cut the recipe in half.
  2. I don't have local Gruyere cheese, so I decided to use Piedmont, a yummy sheep's milk cheese from the Everona Dairy in VA. (side note: when I pulled Piedmont out of the fridge, it had gotten moldy, and not the good kind of cheese mold (I don't think I stored it properly), and I had to break open another Everona Dairy cheese that I'd been saving for a different recipe. The cheese I ended up using had cracked pepper already in it so I cut down the amount of pepper I put in the gratin).
  3. I excluded garlic because the local cloves I had stored had gone bad as well.
  4. I didn't hunt down a source of local flour for the 2 teaspoons that the recipe calls for to make the bechamel. This plus olive oil, salt, and pepper were the only ingredients that didn't come from my garden or local farmers.
  5. I included a few chard leaves as well, even though the recipe only calls for the stalks.

I am now a fan of chard! I liked it, and still have more leaves to use in another dish. This was also my first attempt at making a gratin, and it turned out really well! However, next time I will make sure I have fresh garlic before I cook because I think the dish could have used some garlic. I'll also add more thyme, more chard leaves, and more pepper. I went light on the pepper because the cheese had black pepper in it, and I was afraid to over-season. But I think it could have used more. I tend to under-season in my cooking.

March is the last month of the Dark Days Challenge. I still have chicken breasts, ground beef, a rib-eye, and some vegetables stored in the freezer for the remainder of my meals. I have found great local sources of eggs, milk, and cheese, so I'm looking forward to the last few weeks. Oh, and I still have about 3 pounds of potatoes left.


  1. Great post and it looks delicious. I have not tried chard before either. I am encouraged by your comments maybe I will give it a try.

  2. Looks tasty! Isn't Chard a beautiful veggie? I don't think of it as having much taste, but it is lovely. In your recipe, though, it probably adds some nice texture--and definitely color!

  3. Oh yum! Plus its totally vegetarian-Yay!

    I love rainbow chard more than any kind of chard. I just love the way they r so beautifully colorful.

  4. In my view it looks better than it tastes - I could take it or leave it - your gratin looks delicious though

  5. Oh this sounds so if I can get my potatoes and chard to grow this year, I could make it fresh out of the garden... :)

  6. @cochoctonriverrockminifarm--give it a try, but keep in mind that my chard was smothered in cheese! It makes everything good.

    @plantpostings--thanks. yes, I also liked that the recipe said not to just toss out the stalks but to use them in a dish. Made me feel less wasteful. :)

    @sri--the colors are very pretty. And it was an easy vegetarian dish to make.

    @elaine--thanks! I've found that some people could either take it or leave it.

    @Donna--oh, potatoes are on my must-grow list. I didn't buy chard seeds this year, but it would be nice to have home-grown potatoes.

  7. Hi! This dish sounds great and gives me an idea of how to use chard. I seem to always plant it in the garden because it is pretty but then I kinda slack off harvesting it. I don't really know how to prepare it and I just use a bit of it in fresh salad mixes. This looks really cannot it not be with the cheese and garlic too! :)

  8. I've never cooked chard either, but I'm sucker for an au gratin when I have leftover roasted potatoes.

  9. Looks tasty!! I've never eaten chard before but really need to try it. I mentioned your blog in my current post. :o)

  10. Looks yummy! I discovered chard last year, and it has become my favorite vegetable! One can eat it raw in salads as well as in soups, casseroles and other dishes. It can be used as a substitute for spinach. I have it in my garden, and it has grown successfully throughout the entire year except for the very hottest part of summer. All this, from a plant I originally purchased as an ornamental!

  11. I love chard. first saw it in an organic market, but then saw it in California growing in a flower garden. Huge and beautiful. I planted it two years ago and it went all summer.

    This year I bought seeds and will use it as an ornamental as well as veggie producer. Want to see how it does when it gets space to grow.

    My favorite recipe with it is an omelet, or frittata. Any kind of cheese. I like the idea of pepper jack.



Hello, and thanks for stopping by my garden site. I appreciate the time it takes to read posts and comment. Happy Gardening!