Uses Up: Vegetable stems such as broccoli stems, Swiss chard stems, kale stems, Swiss chard stems, etc. Cream, cheese, breadcrumbs.
This old-school technique for baking potatoes can be used for any root vegetable stems, hardy greens, and/or their stalks, or even chopped vegetables. Last time I made it, I ran out of cream and used a combination of whole milk and coconut milk. It was still fantastic. A crispy, creamy, herby vegetable side dish, and just perfectly zero-waste.
For this Stem Au Gratin recipe, you can use Swiss chard and broccoli with hardy or bitter greens (and stems), grilled, steamed, or blanched mixed vegetables, or very thinly sliced root vegetables such as potatoes (will need to cook longer, since potatoes need to cook through). Cream with alternative plant milk, taking into account that the thinner the milk, the thinner the sauce.
Food 911: Edible vegetable stalks and stems can be just as nutritious as their tops, especially with broccoli. Broccoli stems take a little longer to cook than the florets, but they taste just as good and can be eaten raw as well as cooked.
Stem Au Gratin
- Stems of 1 head of broccoli, trimmed and sliced into 1/2- inch spears
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and reserved leaves roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp butter or oil + extra for greasing
- 1 onion or 2–3 shallots, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups cream
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup grated semi-soft cheese such as mozzarelle or Gruyere
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup grated hard cheese such as Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a baking or casserole dish with oil.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and Swiss chard stems and simmer until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Layer the stems with the Swiss chard leaves in the prepared dish.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepot over medium heat, heat the oil. Sauté the onionsand garlic until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the cream, bay leaf, nutmeg, and thyme, and season with the salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes.
- Lower the heat and stir in the semi-soft cheese until melted. Pour the cheesy sauce over the vegetables, tilting the dish to make sure it gets into all the nooks and crannies.
- Combine the breadcrumbs with the hard cheese and sprinkle on top to make a gratin. Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown on top.
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