I’ve been reading lately, more often than not, articles on 2016 being the international year of pulses. That means that we are all called to cook, eat, and share dishes where the main ingredients are the so-called pulses: lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas. I couldn’t be any happier. Most of my years have been the year of pulses, my diet being mostly focused on leguminous and vegetables. I love them, and eat them constantly (even when I don’t share my dishes with you).
In Italy we have quite a few soups/pasta staples that have been my favorite since childhood: Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas, but it’s more of a creamy soup than an actual pasta dish), Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta with Beans, again, more of a soup than a pasta), Riso e Lenticchie (Rice and Lentils) just to mention some. I’ve had them repetedly through all my life. Plus, Minestrone, where you have your pulses with the vegetables and the pasta. Amazing.
The dish I am presenting you today, is based on a recipe found on a cookbook we bought during our wine tour in B.C. last summer, “Spilling the Beans”, an excellent cookbook full of fantastic recipes using beans and grains from appetizer to dessert, sure to please everybody.
This recipe is a comforting, creamy, cheesy, delicious Chard, White Bean & Sweet Potato Gratin.
A filling, nourishing, yummy gratin; layers of healthy and colorful vegetables, pulses and cheese: sweet potatoes cut in rounds, canned (or cooked) white beans and sautéed swiss chard. To hold every flavor together a bechamel and a generous sprinkle of your favorite cheese: Gouda, Gruyère, Cheddar, Edam, Asiago, you name it, then baked to a bubbly cheesiness.
You’ll want to dig in this delicious gratin as soon as it comes out of the oven, but I suggest you wait a little so not to burn your tongue and palate, like I did.
You can eat it as a side dish, but I can guarantee you, it is great on its own as the main star of the show. We had a big piece, and a second helping, for dinner. So tasteful!
If pulses are not a regular part of your diet, try to dedicate one day a week to a recipe based on lentils, beans, chickpeas or peas. There are so many good dishes that you can make. Your body will be pleased and your family will be surprised at how tasty they can be.
Song of the day: George Ezra “Blame it on Me”.
Recipe for this Chard, White Bean & Sweet Potato Gratin, adapted from the cookbook “Spilling the Beans” by Julie Van Rosendaal and her long-time friend Sue Duncan.
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 bunch chard
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup cooked white beans (or 1 can, rinsed and drained)
- pinch of grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup Edam cheese (or Gruyère, Cheddar, or Gouda)
- olive oil (or canola oil) for cooking
- Heat a drizzle of oil in the pan over medium-high heat and cook the onion for a few minutes. Add the chard, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until the chard wilts and there is no moisture left in the pan. Transfer to a bowl, set aside.
- Add the butter and flour to the pan and whisk together to make a roux. Whisk in the milk, then add the garlic and bring to a simmer. Boil for 2 minutes, whisking. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
- Preheat the oven to 400° F. Spray a baking dish with oil. Spread half of the sweet potatoes in the baking dish. Top with half the beans, a sprinkle of nutmeg, half of the greens mixture, half the cheese, and half the sauce.
- Layer with the rest of the potatoes, beans, greens and sauce, and top with the rest of the cheese.
- Cover with tin foil and bake for about 45 minutes, then take the foil off and bake for another 15 minutes, until Golden and bubbly.
- Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
It is a nice side dish, but it is pretty fabulous on its own, too.
Ricetta in italiano:
Here are some more ideas on how to incorporate pulses in your favorite food.
From the same cookbook “Spilling the beans” Loreto made these gorgeous, healthy: Whole wheat White bean Pancakes
I hid the pulses in this: Black bean Cake with Strawberry Compote
We enjoyed a super flavorful: Curried Lentil Cashew Burger
And loved a nutritious and delicious: Whole wheat Cous Cous with Roasted Vegetables, Feta and Chickpeas
Enjoy your pulses!