If the words ‘kale’ and ‘gooey’ are in the same sentence, you best be heading to the garbage.
If the words ‘Ryan Lochte’ and ‘Speedo’ are in the same sentence, you best be heading to that pool. #teamUSAhotness
Now I’m all distracted.
This Tomato, Chard and Gruyere Casserole was described by Food and Wine as a ‘gooey, crispy, one-dish meal,’ and since things that are gooey and crispy are some of my favorite things (as well as watching men’s swimming), I had to make it.
Turns out, kale and Swiss chard can, indeed, make a deliciously gooey summer casserole! Slices of rustic bread, layered with fresh tomatoes, braised greens and onions, loads of gruyere, and topped with melted butter = a reason to fire up that oven in July.
Although the original version only calls for Swiss chard, I used half chard and half kale because the kale at the store looked to pretty to ignore.
The kale in my garden, however, is not so pretty and is very easy to ignore by anyone but rabbits.
I think one of the secrets to this fabulous dish is to make sure each layer is seasoned well with salt and pepper. With all those juices flowing from the tomatoes + broth, you could end up with a watery, flavorless mess, but the liberal use of S&P, the copious amount of gruyere, and letting it sit for about 20 minutes before serving prevents that from happening. All you end up with is a bowl of gooey, crispy, good-for-you summer comfort. You could even get crazy and add some ground lamb or lamb sausage to the greens if you wanted to make it for the meat lovers in your life. The meat lover in my life loved it as-is, and that’s saying something.
This casserole is particularly delicious when eaten in front of the TV watching the Olympics. Specifically swimming. *wink*
- 5½ lbs Swiss chard, stemmed (I used 2 bunches of rainbow chard + 2 bunches of kale- I doubt it was a total of 5 lbs, but it worked!)
- ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 1 T chopped thyme
- 1 c dry white wine
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper (do not skimp!)
- 3 c chicken stock (I used 2 c because my bread was moist, not slightly stale, as recommended)
- 1 one-pound loaf of day-old peasant bread, sliced ½" thick
- 3 lbs beefsteak tomatoes, sliced ½" thick
- 9 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 3 c)
- 3 T unsalted butter, melted
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the chard and/or kale for 2 minutes; drain. (I shocked it in ice water after it came out of the boiling water). When the leaves are cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess water. Coarsely chop and set aside. (I did this the day before to cut down on mealtime prep.)
- In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and thyme and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 12 minutes. Add the chard and the wine, and simmer over moderately high heat until the wine is reduced to ¼ cup., about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a small saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer (I skipped this step). Butter a 10-by-15-inch baking dish (I used a good 'ole 9x13 and it worked well). Line the bottom of the dish with one third of the bread, overlapping the slices slightly and cutting the bread to fit (my loaf was one pound, as recommended, but I only was able to get 2 layers of bread- bottom and top, skipped the middle bread layer). Top with half the tomato slices and season with salt and pepper. Spread half the chard then sprinkle with half the cheese. Repeat the layering once, finishing with the remaining bread. Pour the hot stock over the casserole and press with a spatula. Brush the top with melted butter.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake in the upper third of the oven for 1 hour. Uncover the dish and bake for about 10 minutes longer, until the top is browned and crisp. Let the casserole rest for at least 10 minutes before serving (mine rested 20).