Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fennel and Chard Gratin with a Crispy Salsa Verde Topping

Serves 4

2 T unsalted butter
¾-pound fennel (one large bulb or a few smaller bulbs), top trimmed and fronds reserved
1 1/2 pounds chard, thoroughly washed, thick stems and leaves separated
4 ounces chèvre, cut into uniform slices
¼ cup 2% milk
3 T chicken stock
Pinch of kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400° F. Butter a 1-2 quart oval baking or gratin dish and set aside. Slice fennel bulb(s) in half lengthwise and remove core from each half. Cut side down, slice fennel about ¼ inch thick (will start as half moons and get smaller as you reach the frond end). Repeat with remaining piece(s). Slice chard stems the same way. Roll the chard leaves and chop. Melt butter in a wide sauté pan and cook over medium low heat, stirring. When butter begins to brown and smell nutty, add fennel and chard stems and cook until tender (but still holds a bite) about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of kosher salt. While fennel and chard stems are cooking, place chèvre in a small saucepan with milk and chicken stock. Heat over medium low, stirring until mixture is well combined. Turn off heat. Transfer fennel and chard stems to a colander. Gently press down vegetables with the back of a wooden spoon to remove excess liquid. Move fennel and chard stems to a large bowl. Increase heat to medium high and add chard leaves to saucepan by the handful, stirring until all of it has wilted. Transfer chard leaves to the colander and repeat with the wooden spoon. Once you have removed excess liquid, place chard leaves into the bowl with fennel and chard stems. Add chèvre mixture to vegetables and transfer to prepared gratin dish, spreading evenly. Top fennel and chard with salsa verde bread crumbs and bake for 20 minutes. When finished, gratin should be bubbling and top golden. Remove and allow gratin to cool for a few minutes.
For Topping½ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
3 T reserved fennel fronds (feathery parts, not stalk), finely chopped
12-imported oil cured black olives, pitted and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of ½ an orange (I used a Cara Cara)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup bread crumbs
Combine parsley, fennel fronds, olives, minced garlic, orange juice and olive oil in a bowl. When you are ready to put gratin in oven, add breadcrumbs and stir to combine.

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