My mom has a rule about recipes: the list of cooking directions have to be less than a page long. If it doesn’t meet that primary requirement, the recipe it out. All the better if that page doesn’t start halfway down one side and finish on another – those recipes are suspect. Partly it’s because the page turning increases the chances of messing up the recipe and partly it’s because the extra oomph you get for your extra work and dirty dishes is often not enough. But mostly it’s because she just doesn’t want to make recipes that need so many instructions. She’s a busy lady (and aren’t we all?).
I still follow the one-page-instructions rule since I also have too much to do and too little time to spend it trying to make something fussy for dinner. Even old favorites get sliced down into fewer steps or altered so that they use fewer bowls and result in less cleanup for me.
There are times when I’m happy to spend hours in the kitchen with a recipe involving dozens of steps an leaving a wake of dirty dishes behind me. But when the goal is dinner, that’s just not how it’s going down. That’s how this gratin, which is delicious in its original form, became a two-step casserole so that I could skip making the roux.
Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Casserole
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 6 servings
I bake this dish in an 8×12 casserole dish which holds about 2 quarts – a traditional 9×13 holds 3 quarts. If you want to make it in that size container, scale the recipe up by 1/3. Alternatively, an 8×8 pan holds about the same amount.
The casserole in the pictures used brie and cotija cheese, the latter of which does not melt particularly well. It was delicious but I’d still recommend something more melty next time.
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp chile flake
2 tsp olive oil
1 large bunch swiss chard, stems removed and leaves cut into 2 inch pieces
2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 cup yogurt or sour cream (or a mix of both)
1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin rounds, 1/8 inch thick
1/4 cup shredded or crumbled cheese (preferably something melty like cheddar or goat cheese)
Black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Put the garlic slices, chile flake, and oil in a large pan and turn the heat to medium. Cook for a few minutes, just until the garlic is fragrant. You don’t want the garlic to take on any color at this point or it may burn while the chard is cooking.
Add the chopped chard leaves to the pan with a half teaspoon of the salt and cook for five to eight minutes, until the greens are wilted and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Then transfer to a strainer and let sit for 10-15 minutes. You can speed this up by pressing extra liquid out of the cooked chard.
Once the chard is well drained, put it in a medium sized bowl with the yogurt/sour cream, cream/milk, nutmeg, and another half teaspoon of the salt. Set that bowl aside.
Butter a 8×12 casserole dish and arrange the sweet potato slices inside. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of salt and then pour on the creamy greens mixture. Dot the top with cheese and pepper (if you want it) and bake for 45-60 minutes, until the top is nicely browned and most of the liquid has baked into the casserole. There will still be some bubbles on the sides but not a lot of sloshy-ness. Let it cool for at least 5 minutes to avoi tongue burning, then serve hot or warm.The leftovers will last at least a week although truth be told the dairy does not stand up well to multiple reheatings.