layered sweet potato & swiss chard bake

Have you ever been to Switzerland? I have had the great blessing of spending a couple of weeks there. The experience forged a small piece of real estate in my heart for this breathtaking country. Strong imagery remains in my memory involving impeccably clean streets, quiet hikes on cold mornings through the Alps, inspiring wooden playgrounds, and markets filled with blackberries and cheeses.

Now that I’ve got that off of my chest, let’s talk about Swiss chard and Swiss cheese. I don’t know if chard is any more Swiss than toast is French, but it seemed like a good excuse to bring up some nostalgic moments of my personal life. [The cheese is really Swiss, though; Emmental is a town in Switzerland, as my father reminded me.]

This faux-Swiss dish comes together in a cinch. Once again, we find ourselves at the mercy of the almighty surround-sound heat (the oven) to take simple ingredients and transform them into far more than the sum of their respective parts by steaming, roasting, and melting all at the same time .

Raw white-fleshed sweet potatoes, raw chard, rudimentarily sliced or grated swiss cheese (gruyere or emmental), wild, local rosemary, and a bit of olive oil are all it takes. I can’t overemphasize how good this tasted; my mother and I ate two of these dishes within twenty-four hours. Sometime this week, do as the Swiss would do: de-clutter your life with simple, seasonal ingredients. And don’t forget the cheese.*

*next recipe will be vegan– promise.

Layered Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Bake
inspired by Vegetarian Times 

1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ slices
15 or so full-size leaves of swiss chard, cleaned, de-stemmed, and chopped
about 1/3 lb emmental or gruyere cheese– sliced, shaved, grated, whatever
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
a few sprigs of rosemary 

Stir the garlic salt and pepper into the olive oil, set aside. Butter the bottom of an 8-inch casserole dish, and layer in a third of the sweet potato slices in concentric circles. Brush a third of the oil onto the potatoes, sprinkle a third of the rosemary, half of the cheese, and half of the chard. Repeat this layer once more. After the second half of the chard has been added, layer the remaining potato slices, brush with oil, and sprinkle the last of the rosemary. This is going to stack quite tall; don’t worry, because the steaming of the chard will cause the whole thing to deflate considerably. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, take off aluminum foil, and broil quickly for about 10 minutes, or until the top sweet potato slices have browned or curled a bit. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

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