This week’s recipe was contributed by Benedictine University Dietetic Intern Tara Oliva who says: ” This rich au gratin style recipe will have children eating their veggies. [You can also add] Swiss chard …to lasagna, ravioli and quiche – or even your favorite stuffing. Toss it with pasta, or add thin strips to stir-fried rice during the last few minutes of cooking. Mix chopped fresh chard or kale into pizza sauce, or scatter over homemade pizza before adding the cheese. Stir sliced leaves into soups, and slip steamed greens into scrambled eggs, omelets and frittatas.”
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 small onion, quartered
2 bay leaves
1/2 pound Italian Fontina cheese, shredded (2 cups)
salt and freshly ground pepper
Filling & Topping
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, 4 tablespoons melted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 pounds Swiss chard, tough stems discarded and leaves cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour over moderate heat. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth, then whisk in the cream and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, whisking constantly. Add the onion and bay leaves and simmer over low heat, whisking often, until the sauce is thickened and no floury taste remains, about 15 minutes. Discard the onion and bay leaves and add the shredded Fontina; season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 15 x 10-inch baking dish. In a large skillet, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in the oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chard, in batches if necessary, and cook over high heat, stirring, until the leaves are wilted and any liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a colander to drain thoroughly, pressing down on the chard. Spread the chard in the prepared baking dish in an even layer and pour the béchamel sauce on top.
In a medium bowl, mix the bread crumbs with the 4 tablespoons of melted butter. Stir in the Parmesan. Spread the bread crumbs evenly over the gratin and bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling. Let the gratin rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Make ahead: The recipe can be prepared through Step 2; refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.