Swiss Chard & Barley Gratin ~ The Garden of Eating - a sinfully good blog about food

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Swiss Chard & Barley Gratin

After a few, all-too-brief days of glorious blue skies, sunshine and warm breezes, it has been raining for the past five days straight. And, if we believe the weather forecast (even though that's often a foolish thing to do), we're in for more of the same for the foreseeable future. Blech.

Unfortunately, I am not blessed with the "sunniest" of dispositions and when it is gray out for days on end (or, to be honest, even just a few hours), I begin to feel tired, cranky and a tad despairing.

One way I've found to beat the rainy day week blues is to cook something really delicious and cozy. So when Sunday dawned just as gray, wet and depressing as the previous few days had been, I decided to try out a variation on this delicious, hearty barley and greens gratin that I'd spotted in the New York Times' Recipes for Health column earlier in the week.

Swiss Chard & Barley Gratin by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

As usual, I took Martha Rose Schulman's excellent, health-conscious recipe and made it a little less healthy by substituting cream for her 2% milk (though my version is still pretty good for you.)

Eggs Hiding In The Cream by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

I was primarily drawn to this recipe by the barley - it just sounds so filling and unpretentious. I can imagine a big, bustling family of French peasants devouring this dish with gusto after hours in the fields, n'est-ce pas?

Rinsing the Barley by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

I was also glad to have a chance to use some of our fresh thyme. I finally moved our plant outside last week after a long winter indoors and it seems to like this endless rain. At least one of us is happy...

Our Thyme Plant by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

I substituted Swiss Chard for the beet greens since I did not feel like dealing with beets and also found the thought of chard's brilliant greenery appealing.

Swiss Chard by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

I served this for lunch along with a green salad topped with roasted beets, a nice crumbly sheep's milk feta cheese, and sliced cucumbers. It did the trick. I am REALLY hoping that the sun comes out soon, though!

Swiss Chard & Barley Gratin by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

Swiss Chard & Barley Gratin
Serves 4-6


* 1 generous bunch Swiss chard (or beet greens or spinach or kale), washed and dried with the ribs removed (chop the ribs and set them aside)
* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced or pressed
* Salt to taste
* 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
* 3 eggs (use organic, free range)
* 1/2 cup half and half or whole milk (use organic, grass-fed, if you can get it)
* 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
* 1 tsp Dijon mustard
* Freshly ground pepper
* 1 cup cooked barley (regular pearled or purple), brown rice or arborio rice
* 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese (2 ounces)
* 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2-quart gratin dish with butter or olive oil. Steam the chard leaves or other greens over 1 inch of boiling water for two to five minutes until wilted and tender. Rinse with cold water, squeeze out water and chop medium-fine. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic, the chopped chard ribs and a generous pinch of salt. Continue to cook for another minute or two until the garlic is fragrant. Stir in the cooked greens and the thyme, and toss together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

3. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. Add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir in the greens mixture, the barley or rice, and the cheeses. Mix together well. Scrape into the oiled baking dish.

4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until sizzling and lightly browned on the top and sides. Remove from the heat, and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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catescates said...

Oh, I think you've just answered my question about what I want for dinner! This looks delicious, especially with the cold weather setting in.

One Woman... said...

True that - stupid rain. It's sunny today though and I'm gonna take full well as make this for dinner ;)

Brent said...

This looks delicious...can't wait to give it a try. I'm a huge fan of your blog! I have to say I found it humorous that you subbed out the Beet Greens because you didn't want to deal with Beets, but also had a green salad topped with roasted Beets :)

Eve said...

Glad someone is getting some sun!

Eve said...

glad there is some sun somewhere, at least!

Eve Fox said...

Ha! Brent, I can explain... I'd roasted a big bunch of beets a couple of days previous and was not eager to jump into a whole new mess of 'em just to get to the greens.

Mya said...

Thanks, Eve! We have an abundance of chard right now at the farm so I'll use this recipe. We had 1.5 hrs of sun today; hope you got some of it, too!

MonaVie said...

It looks delicious! I always like it when ingredients are as fresh as the greens in your very own backyard. You will always taste it's sweet flavor.

Debra said...

Enjoyed this. However, the instructions don't mention when to add the Worcestershire sauce or Dijon mustard, so I added them to the eggs/milk mix. I think it could use more Worcestershire sauce though.

Next time, I'll also add cut cherry tomatoes - about half a cup to the recipe just before baking.


Eve Fox said...

Debra, you are quite right! Thank you for flagging that omission - I've added it (and your assumption was correct). All the best, E