The best warm dips—like crab, artichoke, and this riff made with Swiss chard and roasted garlic—have a creamy, cheesy center and a crispy coating. To make this version, sauté chard and shallots, then mix them with roasted garlic, fontina cheese, cream cheese, and a little sour cream. Put it all in a baking dish, top with a mixture of finely chopped pine nuts and panko breadcrumbs, and bake until browned and melty.
- 1Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- 2Peel any loose outer skins from the head of garlic and cut off the top quarter to expose the cloves. Place the head cut-side up on a piece of foil large enough to enclose it, and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over the garlic. Bring the sides of the foil together and tightly fold it down to seal into a packet. Place the packet in a 1-quart baking dish (you’ll use the same dish later to bake the dip in) and roast until the garlic cloves are golden brown and very tender, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the packet from the dish, carefully open it, and set it aside to cool. Set the baking dish aside.
- 3While the garlic is roasting, chop the shallot into small dice and place it in a medium bowl. Wash the chard and remove the stems. Chop the stems into medium dice and place them in the bowl with the shallots; set aside. Stack the leaves and coarsely chop; set aside. Shred the fontina on the large holes of a box grater (you should have about 1 cup); set aside.
- 4Place the pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven (move the garlic to the side) until golden, about 6 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board to cool, about 2 minutes. Finely chop and transfer them to a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and the panko and, using your fingers, mix until evenly combined; set aside.
- 5Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and chard stems, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the chard leaves, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 4 minutes; remove from the heat. Transfer the chard mixture to a cutting board, finely chop, and return to the frying pan; set aside.
- 6When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the roasted cloves from their skins into the frying pan with the chard mixture. Using a spatula, smash the garlic cloves against the side of the pan and stir into the chard mixture to combine. Add the fontina, cream cheese, sour cream, and measured salt and pepper and stir until the mixture is evenly combined. Transfer to the reserved baking dish and top with the panko–pine nut mixture.
- 7Bake until golden brown on top, the edges are bubbling, and the dip is heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately with crackers.