Fennel and Chard Gratin with a Crispy Salsa Verde Topping

By • March 26, 2013 • 4 Comments

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Author Notes: I love fennel in all forms, but among family members am usually alone in my enjoyment of it. I wanted to see if I could create a dish that everyone would enjoy (or at least eat without complaint – I’m looking at you, 5 year old son of mine), using flavors that would complement one of my favorite vegetables. Thanks to my CSA box, I am lucky to have beautiful organic chard almost every week and decided to adapt a Gourmet magazine recipe for Swiss Chard Gratin. In addition to adding a healthy measure of fennel, I started by swapping out the gruyere for creamy chèvre. Then, realizing that black olives pair well with both fennel and chard, turned the topping into a crispy salsa verde. To my delight, this was the first time my husband has ever asked for fennel seconds. This is also delicious the next day. gingerroot

Serves 4

For the gratin

  • 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
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Butter a 1-2 quart oval baking or gratin dish and set aside.
  2. Slice fennel bulb(s) in half lengthwise and remove core from each half. Cut side down, slice fennel about ¼” thick (will start as half moons and get smaller as you reach the frond end). Repeat with remaining piece(s).
  3. Slice chard stems the same way.
  4. Roll the chard leaves and chop.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 before serving. Enjoy!

For Topping

  • ½ 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 gluten free bread crumbs, from 1-2 slices Rudi’s (or similar) gf bread, grated with a flat or box grat
  1. Combine parsley, fennel fronds, olives, minced garlic, orange juice and olive oil in a bowl.
  2. When you are ready to put gratin in oven, add breadcrumbs and stir to combine.
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over 1 year ago TheWimpyVegetarian

This looks wonderful Jennifer! I love how you used the fennel fronds too. They're way too oft ignored!

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over 1 year ago gingerroot

Thank you Susan! I'd love to hear your thoughts if you give it a try. Agree about the fronds...I usually forget to use them as a garnish but realized using them in a gratin topping would do the trick.

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over 1 year ago savorthis

This looks great gingerroot. I was considering olives with fennel as well, but my husband and daughter would most likely order takeout. I'll have to find another dinner date to try it!

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over 1 year ago gingerroot

Thank you savorthis! You know, my husband is not an olive guy either but he has recently discovered that he likes chard with olives. I took a chance with the fennel + olives + chard - but it paid off.