Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin

My New Year's resolution was to eat healthier and also more organically, sustainably, & locally.  My diet has always been on the healthy side, typically organic, and often locally produced, but I just wanted to push myself a little more and rid my kitchen of anything with unpronounceable ingredients shipped from some city in Guam.

So far, I've drastically reduced the amount of meat my fiancé and I consume.  Ryan is Italian and never even considered something to be a meal without meat - and this past weekend he actually SUGGESTED getting a spinach pizza, with no meat!  This is huge!  So far, I'm proud to say that we're on a good track for fulfilling my resolution.  Now is the time for you to remind me we're only 8 days in to 2010...

With a crisper full of veggies (organic and mostly local), I pondered what to make.  Tonight's dinner was going to be a light, tasty meal that will not only be delicious, but nutritious!  I served this gratin alongside of roasted chicken for a delicious, satisfying meal.

When I refer to sweet potatoes in my recipe, do not confuse this with yams.  The yam is not even distantly related to the sweet potato, but a tuber that is much higher in natural sugar than sweet potatoes (generally yielding a much sweeter dish) and have a higher moisture content.  For this recipe, I used the paler, more yellow variety.

Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin – Serves 4

• 1 small onion, diced
• 3 T butter, divided
• 2 T olive oil
• 1 bunch red-stemmed Swiss chard
• 1 cup milk
• 1 T flour
• Pinch of nutmeg
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 very large sweet potato, sliced into about 1/4" rounds
• 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
• 1 tsp dried thyme
• 1 tsp parsley
• Salt & Pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 2 T of butter and the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions until translucent. Add the Swiss chard to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the massive amounts of green leaves shrink down to 1/16th its original size (you won’t believe your eyes!). Remove from heat and strain as much of the liquid out as possible.

To make a béchamel- heat the milk over medium-high heat until bubbling. In the meantime, place 1 T of slightly softened butter into a small bowl and add the flour. Mash with a fork to combine and whisk into the milk until thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Season with nutmeg, salt & pepper.

Spray an 8” x 8” baking dish with cooking spray and layer half of the sweet potatoes on the bottom. Layer with 1/2 of the swiss chard, then 1/3 of the cheese and sprinkle with half of the thyme and parsley. Top with half of the béchamel sauce.

Repeat with remaining potato slices, the remaining swiss chard, 1/3 of the cheese,  thyme and parsley and the rest of the béchamel sauce. Press everything down so that the entire dish is saturated with the béchamel and top with the remainder of the cheese.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until bubbling and golden-brown on top.


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