Côte de bettes (swiss chard) in cheese sauce

Submitted by Olivia Morton from Marina Allotments (St Leonards), this recipe was a favourite of hers when she used to visit her grandparents in France. 

1. Preheat oven to 180C

2. Thoroughly wash a generous bunch of swiss chard (pick the biggest leaves with long, thick white stems) and trim the leaves from the white stems. Set the greens aside (you can steam and season them later as a side) and slice the white stems into 2-inch pieces.

3. Place the stems in a medium saucepan and pour in enough milk to just cover them. With the lid on, blanch until tender. 

4. Drain the milk into a jug and place the stems in an ovenproof dish.

Cheese sauce 

1. Place the saucepan on a high heat and add a knob of butter

2. Once melted, add a tbsp plain flour and a tsp of Dijon mustard.

3. With the heat still up, stir into a ball. Lower the heat and add in the milk little by little, ensuring it is fully incorporated before each new addition (a whisk is helpful here). Once all the milk has been added, turn the heat up and stir until the sauce begins to thicken. 

4. Take off the heat and add a cup of grated cheese (mature cheddar or comté work best). Season to taste. 

5. Pour the sauce over the chard stems and bake in the oven until the cheese bubbles and the top is golden (about 30 minutes). 

Great served in place of cauliflower cheese with a roast, or simply eaten with fresh bread and salad.

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