I’ve been fortunate this fall that thanks to all my recipe development projects, my fridge has been constantly packed to the gills with good food. But that also means that I’m constantly serving my guests leftovers.
My friend Sarah (queen of toast) had a dinner party earlier this week. In the days leading up to it I helped her talk through the menu. There were lots of boys involved, so despite her own vegetarianism, she wanted to serve meat (and ended up making the menu a literal sausagefest).
After the main course was decided, I asked what I could bring. Though I always try to be helpful, my secret goal was to pawn off a rather large bowl of beet and wild rice salad that had been sitting in my fridge since Friday. I tried to finesse this as best I could. But ultimately Sarah said: your rice, your problem. But in a much nicer way.
Since that same rice is still sitting in my fridge, now accompanied by 3 more types of wild rice salads, I got to reflecting on some of the weirder menus I’ve inflicted on my friends in recent months. Which brings me to girls dinner.
Last month, I gathered a random mix of ladies together for a meeting of the minds and stomachs, and to share in the glow of one another. Sarah and I are obsessed with Ann Friedman’s column on NYMag. And her article on Shine Theory has spawned a near daily mention of ways we can shine on one another, or ladies we know who so are or so aren’t shine theory. Look it up.
Anyway, out of shine theory, came this dinner. I agreed to host. And despite the fact that many of the girls involved had never come over before or eaten my food, I decided to serve them 10 different types of casseroles and call it a meal. This swiss chard gratin was among the lot. And like the others, it was delicious. But given most hostess’ attention to dinner party detail and calculated menu planning – things that I’ve always subscribed to – I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty about holding people hostage to my hosting by forcing them to eat two types of mashed potatoes and five creamy baked greens.
Girls dinner 2.0 is tonight. In the meantime, I have to finish my project for Food & Wine, which means adding even more wild rice to the mix. I haven’t yet decided what to do about tonight’s menu or those beets in my fridge. Something tells me that serving 10 different types of wild rice might be a little less shine theory than 10 different types of casseroles.
But that’s neither here nor there. What’s on the menu for you guys right now is this gratin. It makes for an especially delicious Thanksgiving side, even if your table might include just as many casseroles as mine did a few weeks ago.
What are you guys making for TDay? Shine on me in the comments section with some inspiration!
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 12 cups thinly sliced chard leaves (about 2 large bunches), thick stems removed
- 2 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Sea salt and pepper
- 1 cup coarsely grated gruyere
- ½ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat the butter. Saute the onion over medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chard and cook until wilted and the stems are tender, about 5 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and cornstarch. Add to the pan and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with the nutmeg and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Transfer the greens to a 3-quart ceramic baking dish and sprinkle the cheese over the top, followed by the breadcrumbs. Bake for 15 minutes, until heated through and the top is lightly golden brown.
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