Iron-rich chard and earthy porcini mushrooms create magic in a light and healthy, no-cook Parmigiano Reggiano gratin sauce. A delectable festive side dish. Or anytime dish!
Preheat your oven to 160C fan/180C/350F.
Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in enough just-boiled water to cover, adding a small saucer to the top to keep the mushrooms submerged if needed. Leave for 20 minutes, then drain and chop.
Wash and trim the chard. Slice the stems into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Stack the chard and cut down the long centre (along the rib). Re-stack and slice into thick ribbons or larger pieces. You can cut out the rib and cut with the stem if you wish, especially the usually-thicker Swiss chard.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and tip in the sliced stems. Cook for five minutes, then slide in the sliced/ribboned chard. Cook for two minutes. Drain in running cool water then lay in a tea towel-lined colander to remove extra water. Press well or wring to remove excess water.
Add the oil to a frying pan over a low-medium heat. Scrape in the shallots and and sauté until lightly golden, adding the porcini and nutmeg for the last minute or so. You will be sautéing for about eight minutes.
Add in the rehydrated and chopped porcini, créme fraîche, three-quarters of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano (or vegetarian alternative) and white pepper, stirring to mix. Finally, stir in the lightly cooked chard and stems.
Pour the mixture into a lightly oiled or buttered shallow baking dish (about 20 cm) and top with the chopped sunflower seeds (or breadcrumbs) and remaining Parmigiano Reggiano. Place in the lower rack of your oven and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm rather than hot.
Soft food diet - blend all and bake as directed. You may want to whisk in an egg or two to make it more of a meal.
Variations: use bread crumbs instead of sunflower seeds; try mustard greens, kale, spinach or collard greens if chard is difficult to get. Use about three times as much spinach as called for as spinach collapses to almost nothing!
Make ahead: make this whole dish ahead to bake from fresh. It will not freeze though.