Swiss Chard, Potato and Cheese Gratin
This delicious gratin is known also known as quajado di pasi kon patata i keso (sfongo) in Ladino.
Swiss chard gratin of Turkish origin is characterized with small mounds of mashed potato and cheese mixture interspersed in a bed of Swiss chard, egg, cheese, and potato. It is traditionally served during Passover week, on Rosh HaShanah, and for the festival of Shavout. Served piping hot, this makes a wholesome light family meal.
- Brush a 14 x 10-inch (35 x 25 cm) earthenware ovenproof dish with oil.
- Dry the Swiss chard in batches in a salad spinner. Spread out the shredded chard on kitchen towels and pat gently ensuring that it is thoroughly dry. I like to do this step the night before so the leaves dry thoroughly.
- Put the potatoes in a pan with enough cold salted water to just cover. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Drain and, whilst still hot (using a fork to hold the potato steady and tongs to peel off the skin), peel and return to the pan for about 1 minute to dry off any excess moisture. Put through a potato ricer. Divide the potato mixture into two thirds and set aside the remaining third.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and heat the oiled dish in the oven for 5 minutes.
- In a very large bowl, and using your hands, mix the Swiss chard with two-thirds of the mashed potato and 1 1/2 cups of grated mixed cheese, salt, and pepper. When evenly incorporated add the 7 beaten eggs and combine well.
- In another bowl, combine the remaining third of the mashed potato with 2 beaten eggs, the remaining 1/2 cup mixed cheeses and the milk. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Remove the heated dish from the oven and spread the Swiss chard and potato mixture evenly into the dish.
- With a spoon, scoop out golf ball-sized hollows in the layer of the Swiss chard and potato mixture spacing them evenly in rows about 1 inch (2.5cm) apart. Fill with teaspoonfuls of the potato and cheese mixture, forming small mounds.
- Sprinkle the gratin with cheese and dot with a few small knobs of butter. Bake for 50 minutes or until the top is crusty and golden brown. Serve directly from the dish, hot or cold, cut into squares.
Reprinted with permission from Stella’s Sephardic Table: Jewish family recipes from the Mediterranean island of Rhodes © 2012 by Stella Cohen, The Gerald & Marc Hoberman Collection. Photography by Marc Hoberman.
Sephardic cuisine expert, artist, textile designer, and cookery writer, Stella Cohen is a passionate ambassador for the Jewish community, dedicating her life to the celebration, preservation, and education of Sephardic values and traditions. Stella’s heart lies in Southern Africa as well as in the Mediterranean, as she was born and raised in Zimbabwe and has a family tree entrenched in Sephardic history. Her parents originate from Rhodes, Greece, and Marmaris, Turkey and she is the great-granddaughter of Yaacov Capouya, the Rabbi of Rhodes.
- Use ricotta or fresh goat’s cheese instead of feta for a blander taste.
- The volume of the trimmed Swiss chard seems large but it reduces significantly when cooked.