Chard–Saffron Flan with Spring Greens

Deborah Madison

"In My Kitchen"

"What it comes down to is this: if I want to include cream, cheese and nuts in the tart, then something has to go, and that is the crust. Which isn’t to say I don’t love its crispness and buttery succulence—I do. It’s just its richness that’s problematic. (However, I would include it if pieces were to be sliced into thin wedges for a first course.) In lieu of the crust, I butter a gratin dish and grind almonds to make a meal, then dust the dish liberally with the almonds. It’s not really a crust, but it offers a bit of crunch, as do the slivered almonds or pine nuts scattered over the surface." —Deborah Madison in her 2018 Beard Award–nominated In My Kitchen. 


  • 1 pound (8 cups) chard, leaves only
  • 1 large spring onion, quartered lengthwise and diced into small pieces (1 cup), or 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, pounded in a mortar or finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • One big pinch of saffron threads soaked in 1 tablespoon near-boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups cream 
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Ground almonds, enough to dust the bottom and sides of the dishes
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts or slivered almonds


Tear or chop the chard into pieces, then wash, but do not dry them. Chop or dice the spring onion (a spring onion is slender, but a lot larger than a scallion).

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a wide skillet and add the onion and garlic. Move it around to pan to cook for about a minute, then add the chard with the water clinging to its leaves.  Sprinkle over 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, turning the leaves occasionally, until they’re soft, about 8 to 10 minutes for early season chard, which can be tough, and less for more tender leaves. Turn off the heat. Taste the chard for salt and season with pepper.

Beat the eggs in a bowl then stir in the saffron water (plus threads), cream, lemon zest and grated Parmesan. Stir in the chard and season with pepper.

To finish, butter 4-cup round or oval gratin dish.  Grind enough ground almonds to dust the bottom and sides.  Pour in the filling and scatter the pine nuts or almonds over the surface.

Bake at 375’F until golden and set, about 30 minutes.

Make the spring green salad: assemble a collection of leaves and herbs from the suggestions above. Tear the herbs into large pieces and keep the more salady greens larger. Toss them with salt, just enough olive oil to coat lightly, and a few drops lemon juice or vinegar to sharpen the flavors. Put the greens on individual plates.  Spoon the flan carefully over them.  The heat of the flan will wilt them a bit and bring out their aromas.


Adapted from In My Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2017).


4 to 6 servings