What to do with Swiss Chard Stems (gratin or phyllo triangles)


I’m obviously going through a gratin phase.  For my full thoughts on the wonders of the gratin visit the Potato, Celeriac, Fennel and Leek Gratin recipe that I posted a while back.  I am excited about his particular gratin because it uses swiss chard stems.  Swiss Chard is my favourite food.  I eat swiss chard every week.  I often eat Swiss Chard every day.  I posted my usual braised Swiss Chard recipe in the post titled 4 Reasons to Make Homemade Mayonnaise (I like to make swiss chard with poached eggs and homemade mayo). In the spring and summer when chard stems are thin and tender I include them in my braised swiss chard.  In the winter however, chard stems get very thick and a bit stringy, like celery.  They are still delicious but they overpower the leaves in the braised swiss chard, so I cut the stems out and reserve them for another use.

swiss chardDSC04425

I recently made a swiss chard gratin (yet another excellent recipe from Chez Panisse Vegetable!!!!!!) and I was very, very happy with it.   I used to make delicious phyllo triangles with filled with sautéed swiss chard stems, mushrooms,  and feta cheese.  Those are VERY good, but I have not sorted out a good gluten-free recipe for them, so I haven’t had the pleasure of making them in a while.  I will include both recipes.  I also sometimes  use chard stems in place of greens in my recipe for easy pasta with greens, goat cheese and oregano and it is delicious!

Simple Swiss Chard


I made this a few weeks ago to go with duck confit.  It was also good all by itself.  I think that I may include sauteed mushrooms the next time I make it.

  • stems from 3 or 4 bunches of swiss chard (remove and discard any tough strings and then slice)
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I use bob’s red mill gluten-free flour mix)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, fried until crispy and drained (optional)
  • a handful of chopped italian parsley
  • two tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • two or three cloves of garlic, minced
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the chard stems and par-boil for a few minutes, until the stems are tender. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan.  When it’s just about to boil, turn the heat off.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the butter in another sauce pan over medium heat.  When the butter  is melted add the flour and stir until smooth.   Cook until the mixture turns a light golden colour (5-7 minutes).
  5. Slowly add the heated milk to the roux whisking as you go to prevent lumps (it helps to have a friend to pour for you.)
  6. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking constantly for about 10 minutes or until the sauce is a thick bechamel.
  7. Spread the chard stems in the bottom of a gratin or shallow casserole dish.  Sprinkle the chopped parsley, minced garlic, chopped tomato and fried pancetta on top of the stems.  Pour the bechamel over everything and smooth with a spatula.
  8. Bake until the gratin is golden brown on top!


DSC04535Swiss Chard Stem Gratin


This is an adaptable recipe so I will just include suggestions and no quantities.  I learned how to handle the phyllo from The Silver Palate Cookbook.

  • stems from 3 or 4 bunches of swiss chard (remove and discard any tough strings and slice)
  • Olive oil
  • Any or all of the following- sautéed mushrooms, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, minced sautéed garlic, dill, mint, thyme, oregano, basil.
  • Feta cheese, drained and crumbled
  • Frozen (or fresh if you can find it!) phyllo dough
  • Lots of butter

Note- One frozen package of phyllo dough will make about 60 triangles.  For that many triangles you will need about a half pound of butter.  If you want to save some phyllo for later instead of using it all store it in a sealed container in the fridge.  It will keep for about a month.

  1. Let your phyllo dough defrost in the fridge for a couple of days before opening the package.
  2. Sautee the stems in olive oil until tender.
  3. Add other sautéed ingredients, herbs and cheese.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Melt the butter.
  6. Unwrap one layer of phyllo dough (cover the rest with a damp towel).
  7. Brush the phyllo generously with butter.
  8. Stack a second sheet of phyllo on top of the first layer and butter it again (cover the rest with a damp towel).
  9. Cut the buttered phyllo into fifths the short way with a sharp knife.
  10. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of the first strip about an inch from the top.  Fold a corner across the filling and continue to fold like a flag until it is a wrapped triangle.  Don’t do it too tight (the dough needs room to expand a bit).
  11. Place the triangle on a buttered baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough until you have used all of your filling.
  12. Brush all of the triangles with melted butter and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

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