From One Good Dish by David Tanis


For the Béchamel:

4 TB Butter

1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour

2 to 3 cups Milk

Salt and Pepper

Grated Nutmeg


For the Rest:

2 lb Chard

Salt and Pepper

2 TB Olive Oil

2 Garlic cloves, minced

Pinch or Red-Pepper Flakes

3 TB Butter

3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, or Gruyere

To make the béchamel, melt the 4 TB butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and let cook for 1 minute.  Add 2 cups of milk, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking constantly as the sauce thickens.  Then add more milk if necessary.  Season generously with salt and pepper and with nutmeg to taste.  Turn the heat to low and cook, whisking, for 10 to 15 minutes.  Keep the sauce warm in a double boiler.  Meanwhile, cut the stems from the chard.  Trim them and cut into batons about 1/2" thick by 3".  Rinse well and set aside.  Stack the chard leaves about 6 at a time, roll them up like a cigar, and cut into 1" wide strips.  Wash twice in cold water and drain.  Bring 8 cups well-salted water to a boil in a saucepan.  Add the chard stem batons and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain and let cool.  Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and let sizzle without browning, then add the chopped chard leaves.  Season with salt and pepper and stir-fry until just wilted, about 2 minutes.  Drain in a colander.  When the chard is cool, squeeze to remove excess liquid.  Heat the oven to 400 F.  Use 1 TB of the butter to grease a 2 qt gratin dish or shallow baking dish.  Add the chard leaves in an even layer.  Arrange the cooked stems over the top.  Spoon the béchamel over the entire dish.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese and dot with the remaining 2 TB of butter.  Bake until golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes.