Another recipe to test for America’s Test Kitchen landed in my inbox. I signed up to recipe test for them, and it's been interesting. No, it’s not normally something I’d make, nor did it sound ABSOLUTELY appetizing, but I still jumped on this vegetarian egg gratin with Swiss chard and cherry tomatoes out of some sort of warped sense of duty, even though I get absolutely nothing besides a recipe that's exclusive (but will later be released to the hungry public). Don’t ask.
My 8x8" Pyrex dish was 2 quarts, so I used that. Hey, they asked for a 2 quart dish, so I went for it.
I used 2 T butter instead of 3 T, using 1 T for each of the different vegetables. Let me tell you; buttered vegetables is so much more special than it sounds. The butter hits you at once, soothing the tongue and making your mouth a lot more willing to consume the rainbow (of vegetables) that we should. There should be some sort of celebrated National Buttered Vegetables Week. I’d definitely partake.
I didn’t cook the tomatoes that much, since I knew they’d be baked for 30+ minutes later and I like plump tomatoes. I cooked the chard longer than the recipe called for, because I like my chard silky and tender and not at all crunchy. I’m fairly certain I used too few tomatoes and too much chard, simply because I popped some (tomatoes, not pills) before they could make it into the oven. Sorry, not sorry. I sprinkled some dried thyme and oregano on top of the chard before pouring over the custard mixture to add more umph.
I used Parmesan cheese instead of Manchego, as per the recipe’s allowances. I cut down the cheese by 1/4 cup, since it felt like there was a ton of cheese. Half and half seemed pretty rich, so I was planning to use whole milk. But, I forgot to pick it up at Trader Joe’s earlier in the day, and didn’t feel like going back out. So, 1 cup of 2% milk it was with 1/4 cup of half and half. I mushed down any chard that was sticking up into the eggs so that it wouldn’t singe like a bad chard chip in the oven.
I baked the gratin (which is more like a frittata to me, even though this is technically a gratin, at least according to Wikipedia) for 30 minutes at first. I hit a raw egg patch, though, so I left it for 3 more minutes. At that point, the toothpick test was passed at 7 (yes, 7) different checkpoints and I pulled it. I was too lazy to broil it, but by then the side edges were fairly browned anyways.
Holy eggs and buttered vegetables, this vegetarian egg gratin with Swiss chard and cherry tomatoes was good. The eggs were super soft and custardy, like dan dan or chawanmushi or steamed egg, or whatever you want to call it. The chard was soft and tender, the herbs perfumed throughout the dish, the tomatoes sweet and tangy and juicy. The Parmesan made it taste satisfyingly like lasagna (which kind of makes sense, but also doesn’t; it’s easier to see than it smelling like chicken during baking, despite what my family says), while the relative healthfulness made it easy to pig out on this dish.
It was a little watery, but I blame it on my not cooking the chard until all the liquid evaporated, then not squeezing out the excess water. My biggest problem was that the tomatoes didn’t stick to the eggs and chard. They just kind of rolled around and were left behind in the pan during serving. Maybe mixing them with the chard instead of layering would help. But I think the inclusion of tomatoes is unnecessary; they are so good on their own in summer (when I made this), and I think sauteed onions and/or mushrooms would 1) cling better to the gratin, and 2) be more worthwhile to use.
I’ll be making this again, but with onions instead of tomatoes.
What? Where's the recipe, you ask? ATK asks that the recipe testers not post the recipe until they release the magazine/cookbook/whatever the platform the recipe appears in. And because I'm an inherent rules follower (even when I try not to be), there's no recipe. But fear not, you'll get to try it soon enough. I'd be really impressed if someone tried to reverse-engineer this.
Update May 2015: The full vegetarian egg gratin with Swiss chard and cherry tomatoes recipe can be found online here, and in print in ATK's The Complete Vegetarian.