A Perfect Side Dish for Labor Day Cooking

Corn, Tomato, and Chard PudddingFreshly picked sweet corn, juicy tomatoes of varying lineages, bunches of leafy greens, slender pods of okra, fragrant herbs. Those are just some of the end-of-summer temptations  at my local farmers’ market this time of the year. Often they serve as inspiration for the side dishes I prepare at home.

One recent creation, prepared with such purchases, was a delicious corn, tomato, and chard gratin. I sautéed corn kernels with leeks and julienned chard, then combined them with a savory custard of Half-and-Half, eggs, and grated white cheddar. This mixture was poured into a casserole pan, then topped with sliced tomatoes and another sprinkle of cheese. When baked the gratin was a lovely contrast of flavors with the sweetness of the corn and tomatoes countering the hint of slightly bitter chard.

This side dish is so versatile that you could pair it with any number of main courses. Try it with barbecued ribs, or with grilled lamb chops or flank steaks. It would also make a good partner to roasted salmon or to steamed lobsters. Add a salad of just picked greens tossed in your favorite dressing to round out a menu for this long holiday weekend. Happy Labor Day to all and safe travels if you’re on the road!

 

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Savory Corn, Tomato, and Chard Gratin

1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened for greasing the baking pan
3/4 lb. firm, ripe tomatoes, cored and sliced l/4-inch thick
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped leeks (about 2 medium leeks)
3 ears corn, scraped to make 2 cups corn kernels
1 tsp chopped garlic
l/4 lb. chard leaves, cleaned, dried, tough center stems removed, and leaves finely julienned (about 1 1/4 cups packed)
2/3 cup Half-and-Half
2 large eggs
Two generous pinches cayenne pepper
l cup plus 2 tbsp grated sharp white cheddar (about 4 to 5 ounces)
1 tbsp chopped chives, divided

1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.

2. Arrange sliced tomatoes on a double layer of paper towels. Sprinkle them lightly with salt and black pepper and cover with another double layer of paper towels.

3. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, heat oil until hot. Add leeks and corn kernels, and cook, stirring constantly, until both are just softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and chard and stir 1 minute more. Transfer the corn mixture to a large bowl and cool l0 minutes.

4. In a mixing bowl whisk together Half- and-Half, eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, several grinds of black pepper, and two generous pinches of cayenne pepper. Stir in the corn mixture. Then add half of the cheese and stir well again.

5. Pour corn mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread it evenly. In an overlapping design, cover the top with tomato slices. Sprinkle remaining cheese over them. Bake until gratin is set, about 40 minutes. Remove and cool 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chives. Serves 5 to 6.

Note: This recipe can be doubled easily. Instead of a 2-quart, baking dish, use a 3-quart  one such as a 9-by 13-inch pyrex dish.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2016

2 thoughts on “A Perfect Side Dish for Labor Day Cooking

  1. There are six couples in our “gourmet” dinner group. We have dinner every other month or so. The host and hostess select the menu and assign recipes. We were doing a Texas BBQ theme last evening. On September 1 I received Betty’s recipe for Savory Corn, Tomato and Chard Gratin. After reading it, I promptly called the hostess to see if I could substitute this recipe for the corn salad recipe I had been assigned. Of course she agreed to it. I made this recipe exactly as written except for one thing. I used only one pinch of cayenne pepper instead of two. (My husband doesn’t like things too hot!) It added the perfect amount of “kick” to suit our tastes. Betty, this recipe is fabulous…a definite keeper! It was the hit of the entire menu. To all other readers, if you think this sounds good, please try it. I loved it!

    • Hi Margaret,
      To say that your note made my day would be an understatement! I was thrilled to learn that your gourmet dining group loved this corn,tomato, and chard gratin. I’m so glad you decided to try it and that you wisely adjusted the cayenne to suit your own tastes! Nothing pleases me more than knowing that readers are enjoying my recipes so many thanks for taking the time to write!! Happy Labor Day weekend to you!

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