Head chef at Rovi, Neil Campbell, says his Swiss chard gratin with orange, Aleppo chilli and Gorgonzola will appease your winter woes
Swiss chard comes into its own in the cold months, surviving through the frost, giving us bountiful leafy greens while we’re waiting for spring to start. This recipe came to be as part of a staff supper. I asked my sous chef, Daniel Garland, to use up ingredients, suggesting that he whisk up a gratin. He did just that and for me, it was an instant winner. It had to go on the menu.
If you can’t find white stem Swiss chard you can use rainbow or even large leaf spinach. I would serve this with slow-roasted beetroot — which would make a lovely veggie main — or alongside some simple grilled pork.
20g pine nuts
400g Swiss chard
5 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
5 to 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 cardamom pod, ground
1 tsp Aleppo chilli
1 orange, zested and juiced
For the béchamel Gorgonzola sauce
30g plain flour
200ml full-fat milk
1 egg yolk
¼ tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 190C or gas mark 5, then toast your pine nuts for 5 minutes until lightly golden.
2. Separate the chard stalks from the green tops and dice the stalks into 2cm pieces. Add half the olive oil to a medium sized pot with the diced chard stalks and salt, then cook, covered, for about 7 to 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring every few minutes until soft.
3. Add garlic, ground cardamom, Aleppo chilli, orange zest and the remaining oil and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add orange juice and cook, covered, for a further 5 minutes. Add your Swiss chard leaves and cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, until the chard is completely wilted down.
4. Remove from the heat and drain the chard over a bowl, gently pressing the chard to remove the excess liquid. Add the liquid back to the pot and reduce until it becomes syrup-like. Then combine both ingredients and place into an ovenproof gratin dish.
5. For the béchamel Gorgonzola sauce, melt the butter in a heavy based pan, add the flour and cook to a biscuity roux — approximately 10 minutes. Add the milk and cream gradually, stirring as you go using a whisk.
6. Keep stirring while you bring the liquid to simmer, until the sauce is completely smooth and has lost the floury taste. Remove from the heat and add the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted, then add the egg yolk and salt.
7. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top of the chard mix in your gratin dish, and finish with the cheese sauce. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until caramelised on top.