Rainbow Chard Rib Gratin
Planting vegetables in the backyard garden sometimes seems similar to setting up a new recipe, you decide on your ingredients, then later on, change it up a bit, a little extra of this, a little extra of that, or perhaps, even a little less. Which then brings me to Rainbow Chard, and that in next year’s garden, the change-up will involve planting just a little bit less, meaning one row of four leafy greens rather than eight.
Initially the idea was that the neighbors might also enjoy plentiful picking of the crop, and, given use of a natural repellent the deer would be eating less. Neither of those options has transpired. You might say at least the vegetables are being eaten up by the latter, but my bigger concern is that the abundance might inspire a larger crowd, then diversifying bigger meals among a broader range of crops.
We have a lot of deer in these parts. Besides we are already sharing plenty of vegetables with a rabbit, but it’s just one, and doesn’t eat as much as the deer who also annually nibble their gourmet meal off every hosta plant in my front yard too. Yes. One row of chard in this garden seems just the right amount.
Rainbow chard, sold alongside its sibling, plain Swiss chard, is a nutritious and versatile vegetable, tasty in soups, stews, or, its leafy greens simply sautéed as a side dish.
As far as the ribs, I best enjoy the observation made by author, Aliza Green, in her cookbook “Starting With Ingredients” remarking on the ribs technically being a “nutty stalk,’ in essence, a vegetable of their own coming free with the purchase of the Swiss chard. This is so true about Swiss Chard ribs as they do stand alone in providing delicious side dishes, simply sautéed in some butter and seasoned with salt and pepper, to a more comfort filled classic in cooler months such as today’s preparation, Rainbow Chard Rib Gratin.
Preparing a savory gratin is a rather simple matter that may easily be put together from among any number of vegetables, adjusting your choices and ingredient combinations sort of like planting your garden, adding in a little extra of this or that, perhaps less.
Fundamentally your prepared combination is blended together with a simple roux of butter and flour finished off by adding in warm milk or cream then whisking until thickened and stirring through some grated cheese.
Topping the Gratin with a thin layer of bread crumbs lightly cooked with some melted butter then voila, into the oven it goes producing a creamy, crispy, savory delight.
Sautéed onions and garlic are often commonly nice enhancements in savory vegetable gratins, along with a bit of fresh herb, as thyme, ingredients included in today’s Swiss Rainbow Chard Rib Gratin recipe.
You can easily switch out vegetable combinations but should this lovely dish strike your fancy using Rainbow Swiss chard that is, the free crisp pink and pale yellowed color ribs accompanying large, fresh, leafy greens. And now you know whose garden you can stop by and pick them from, that is, if the neighborhood deer don’t get there first.