Swiss Chard Gratin (Vegan & Gluten-Free)
This creamy Swiss chard gratin is made with coconut milk, garlic and ginger for soul-satisfying yet healthy side dish that has converted even the staunchest of chard critics! Instead of fussing with a bechamel sauce, coconut milk gets simmered with garlic and ginger until fragrant, and is then thickened with cornstarch. The sauce binds together a tangle of Swiss chard (it will seem like a lot of chard, but it cooks down considerably). The gratin gets topped with crispy breadcrumbs (regular or gluten-free) and is baked until bubbly. A touch of lime juice brightens the flavors. You will need a 1-quart sized baking dish for this recipe (it can also be baked in individual ramekins or dishes).
- 1 can unsweetened coconut milk (not lowfat), stirred
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- Sea salt
- 2 bunches Swiss chard, leaves and stems coarsely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ lime
- 1/3 cup regular or gluten-free Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
In the meantime, put 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk in a small bowl and add the cornstarch. Stir until dissolved. Set aside. Pour the rest of the coconut milk into a medium saucepan. Add the grated garlic and ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Give the cornstarch coconut mixture another stir, then whisk it into the simmering coconut milk. Bring back to a simmer and cook, whisking, 2-4 minutes, or until thick and rich. Season with sea salt.
Once the water reaches a boil, season it generously with salt. Add the Swiss chard and cook until tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Using your hands, squeeze the water out of the chard. Finely chop the chard and add it to the coconut milk. Stir to combine. Squeeze in the juice from a quarter of a lime, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 1-quart gratin or baking dish. (See the do-ahead tip in the notes below.)
In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and olive oil and toss with your fingers until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the gratin.
Bake 12-15 minutes, or until bubbling and light golden on top. Let cool 5 minutes. Serve warm.
Do Ahead: Once the chard mixture is transferred to the baking dish (before adding the breadcrumbs), the gratin can be covered and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
- Opt for full-fat coconut milk, which will give the gratin a much better texture and flavor.
- It will seem like a lot of Swiss chard, but it cooks down considerably once boiled (by the way, the stems are completely edible, so add them!). It's important to squeeze the liquid out of the Swiss chard before adding it to the thickened coconut milk to prevent the gratin from turning watery. I simply ball it up in my hands and squeeze it over the sink.
- The gratin is bound with coconut milk, which gets thickened using cornstarch. Cornstarch should never be whisked directly into hot liquid, as it will clump up. Instead, whisk the cornstarch into some reserved room temperature coconut milk (this is called making a slurry), then slowly add the slurry to the simmering coconut milk mixture.
- While the gratin is fairly small, it's rich enough to feed six.