Comforting gratin made with Swiss chard, quinoa, and cheese. Perfect vegetarian dinner for a chilly night.
Not that this stops me at all, mind you, but greens take up way too much real estate in the refrigerator for my husband, Carnivorous Maximus. So when colorful flounces of Swiss chard grabbed my attention at the market earlier this week, I knew that complaints about them crowding out his meat were in my future. I needed a solution to keep everyone happy. The solution: a cheesy Swiss chard gratin. You should know, cheese is our ‘go-to' peacemaker. And to make it more of a meal for me, I added quinoa to the mix. Luckily, quinoa is the only grain he doesn’t greet with a toss of his head and a series of neighs, while pawing the floor.
Casseroles like this gratin are flexible, so feel free to adjust to your liking. First I wilted the Swiss chard – 4 huge bouquets yielded barely a cup of wilted greens! Next I slid the tomatoes in to roast while some onion and garlic sautéed on the stove. Finally I stirred them together with the cheeses, eggs, milk, and spices. While it baked, I whipped up a topping of toasted breadcrumbs to spread over the gratin when I came out of the oven.
When it was done, CM couldn’t wait to try it, and then asked for seconds. With this seal of approval, I feel confident this is a vegetarian casserole your whole family will like.
Tips for Omnivores
If you must, stir in some crispy bacon lardons. Roasted chicken chunks is another good option. Add either to the casserole when everything else in combined into the dish for baking.
Swiss Chard Gratin with Quinoa
- 4 large bunches rainbow or green Swiss chard
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
- 1/4 cup low-fat milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Preheat the oven to 375°F, butter a casserole dish, and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.
- Remove the bottoms of the chard stems from just below the leaf, and reserve for another use (see below note). Slice the leaves horizontally into one-inch wide ribbons, and add to the boiling water. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, or until well wilted. (You may need to do this in batches.) Strain, and when cool enough to handle, squeeze as much water out as possible. Set aside.
- Slice the tomatoes in half, toss in one teaspoon olive oil, and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and a light flourish of pepper. Spread the tomatoes on the baking sheet, their cut sides facing up. Roast for 20 minutes, or until slightly dried and puckered around the edges.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to a sauté pan over medium heat, and sauté the onion until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook an additional minute.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cheeses, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until well combined. Fold in the chard, tomatoes, cooked quinoa, and sautéed onions, and scrape into a casserole dish using a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbling.
- Melt the butter in the sauté pan and add the breadcrumbs and pine nuts. Sauté until lightly toasted, about two minutes. Spread across the top of the baked casserole. Add a little Parmesan cheese for garnish on top.
- Serve warm with a fresh green salad.