Whole head of chard gratin

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Vegetarian mains

Whole head of chard gratin

Main Serves 4 1h
This dish is a French classic usually made with spinach rather than chard. It could be a side to a weekend roast or to weekday baked potatoes; a bed for poached eggs; or just a standalone meal with a little bread or brown rice to soak up the cream. Use an alternative to Parmesan to make it vegetarian.


  • 1 whole head of chard
  • 40g butter, plus a little extra
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 25g plain flour
  • 150ml milk
  • a little nutmeg, grated
  • a small handful grated hard cheese eg.
  • 25g Parmesan or Gruyère, grated (optional)
  • 25g dried breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper


Prep time: 15 min
Cooking time: 45 min
  • Step 1

    Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Cut a small slice off the chard base to release the leaves.
  • Step 2

    Cut out each white stem in a v-shape, then chop them into 1-2cm pieces. Keep the leaves as they are.
  • Step 3

    Cook the chard stems in a large pan of salted boiling water for 3 minutes. Add the chard leaves and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  • Step 4

    Drain, refresh in a large bowl of ice cold water, then drain again. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid and keep to one side.
  • Step 5

    Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan. Add the onion and fry on a very low heat until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  • Step 6

    Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes. Add the milk and nutmeg and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, to thicken slightly.
  • Step 7

    Add the chard and toss to coat. Add a little more milk if the mixture gets too thick.
  • Step 8

    Check the seasoning, and spread the chard mixture evenly in a greased baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs and bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

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