What is it about the word "gratin"? From the moment I spy those five little letters I am hooked and usually want to run into the kitchen to whip up whatever gratin I'm currently consumed with. And that's not such a good thing 'cause most often those breadcrumb/cheesy-topped dishes are high in fat and calories and not all that healthy for what generally passes for a side dish. So...I don't make them all that often. But that's about to change because this Swiss Chard, Tomato and Bean Gratin is not only immensely satisfying in the gratin department but also a vegetarian main dish that's actually good for you--filled with fiber, protein and vitamins and minerals too. How's that for the last Monday of August?!!
It's the crunchy pickable topping that gets us, right? And the contrast with whatever soft goodies are beneath. I've already shared this Butternut Squash and Spinach Gratin and this Swiss Chard Corn Gratin and they are out of this world yummy but both use a hefty amount of butter, heavy cream and cheese (particularly the Butternut version) which means I can only make them now and then for special occasions, which is why I'm so overjoyed to find this lighter version. Plus it's a fairly easy put-together which means you can attempt this on normal (read: not soccer or hockey driving) weeknights!
And what's best is the taste. This is sort of in the Italian family, what with the tomatoes and beans and Parmesan. It's so full of flavor and is light yet totally satisfying as a main course.
If gratins make you swoon (like me-I freely admit my nerdiness here) but you still want to eat healthy, give this guilt-free, no special occasions necessary version a try. Go Gratins!!
Swiss Chard, Tomato and Bean Gratin
Makes 6 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes; Bake Time: 30-35 minutes
- 1 1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs (pulse 2-3 slices of white bread, preferably homestyle or homemade in the food processor until crumbs form)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2-3 shakes red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 4 cups packed chopped swiss chard leaves (remove stems and chop roughly)
- Two 15 ounce cans pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup chopped whole canned tomatoes (use a kitchen scissor to cut the tomatoes--makes it much easier not to get squirted by tomato juice)
- Black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon oil, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
2. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat and add the onion, cooking and stirring every now and then for about 8 minutes, until golden. Add the garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add the chard in batches, stirring, until wilted. Remove about 1/2 cup of the beans and mash them well in a small bowl. Add them to the skillet along with the rest of the beans, broth, Parmesan, tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture evenly over the top and bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes until everything is hot and bubbly.
Note: Recipe adapted from Sara Moulton's Home-Cooking 101. I omitted the 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary that gets added along with the garlic and upped the amount of beans so as not to waste a can.