When I ask Swiss people what their favorite dish is from their home country, they often mention raclette or fondue. Although recently, when I asked a lifelong resident of Switzerland this question, she responded with, “Gschwellti” (pronounced something like, “shvell-ti”). I asked her to write it down because I had never heard of this dish!
Of course, there’s still lots of traditional foods in Switzerland that I have yet to discover, but in fact, I had eaten the primary component of this Swiss dish many times before. Gschwellti means potatoes cooked in their skins. They are commonly served with raclette—the Swiss cheese that’s melted, scraped and eaten with boiled or steamed potatoes. However, when you say you’re having Gschwellti for a meal, it may mean that you’re serving these boiled potatoes with a selection of different types of cheese. Unlike raclette, the cheeses served with Gschwellti are not heated.
If you’re making this at home, what kind of potatoes should you use?
Betty Bossi recommends the following varieties of potatoes, which would also be good for raclette: Nicola, Stella, Charlotte, Granola and Ostara. Traditionally, you leave the skin on the potatoes, which I prefer, but you certainly don’t have to. You steam or boil them until tender.
Here are some examples of the words used to describe unpeeled boiled or steamed potatoes in Switzerland:
- Gschwellti (Swiss German)
- Pellkartoffeln (German)
- Les rondes (Swiss-French, literally means “the rounds”)
- Les pommes de terre en robe des champs (French, potatoes in their skins or literally, “potatoes in field dresses”)
What are some accompaniments for potatoes and cheese?
A Swiss-German friend recommends a fresh, crisp and seasonal salad as a side dish for Gschwellti. Cornichons also seem to be a popular accompaniment for this dish. Another typical condiment is quark (German) or seré (French)—a soft, smooth cheese with a light acidity, which can be mixed with fresh herbs, like chives, or with garlic, for example.
How do you eat Gschwellti?
It seems rather simple, but you just put some cheese and cooked potatoes on your plate and eat it. Maybe you eat them together. Maybe you eat them separately. Or, maybe you top your potatoes with seasoned quark. There are no hard, fast rules here, but the key components are always boiled or steamed potatoes and cheese.
What kind of cheese do you serve with Gschwellti?
Some common cheese recommendations include a mixture of both hard and soft cheeses, fresh cheese and blue cheese, etc. When I reached out via Instagram to ask about specific cheeses to pair with boiled potatoes, here are some of the Swiss cheese suggestions I received:
- Vacherin fribourgeois
- Tomme vaudoise
- Tête de moine
- Bündner bergkäse
What are the origins of this dish? Anecdotally, I’ve heard that this dish in Switzerland dates back generations, much like raclette. Potatoes and cheese have been accessible ingredients for centuries now in this country, and a platter of cheese with cooked potatoes is a quick meal to throw on the table. It has certainly continued over time because of its simplicity. And, because adding cheese to most things makes them better, right? Made of whole foods, with few ingredients and easy preparation, Gschwellti is my kind of meal.
Do you make Gschwellti at home? What kind of cheese do you use? Please share your experiences with and knowledge of this dish by sharing a comment below. Thanks in advance for your help!
Updated: December 30, 2022
Categories: Cheese, Lunch/dinner, Recipes, Swiss, Swiss food, Switzerland
La Tête de Moine pour moi!!! Actually I think cheddar will work too since I don’t have easy access to Swiss cheese any more. Haha!
Absolutely! You have some great cheese to choose from in England too! 🙂 And, can’t you find Gruyère there?
It’s easy to make, and a very satisfying meal! So Swiss! 🙂
Long ago I had this recipe my daughter LOVED it!! Directions said HEAP boiled potatoes on a clean white tablecloth serve with coarse salt & pepper and assorted cheeses!! VERY DELICIOUS!! 🙂
So simple, and so delicious! Yes, and very kid-friendly. Unfortunately I have one who doesn’t like potatoes or cheese very much. 🙂
In the Swiss French part of Switzerland we name this dish (des rondes avec un plateau de fromage). I add all sorts of cheese (tête de moine, brie, un chèvre, gruyère, tomme de fleurette, etc.) I also add dry meat, cherry tomates, some pickles, a salad and 2 sort of breads.
Hi Silvie! That sounds like the perfect meal. Yes, you really need a variety of cheese, like the ones you suggested. I need to make this again soon! Have a great week, -Heddi
I serve my boiled potatoes with butter and sea salt, and accompany them with Gruyère, Mont d’Or and Reblochon (as well as the other cheeses you spoke about in your article).
Hi Rosa! Thanks for weighing in! Sounds lovely. I can really see why the Swiss eat so much cheese. There are too many good options. I know my cheese consumption has gone up dramatically since living here. Hope you are doing well and enjoying a sunny weekend! 🙂
I have been living in the USA for 37 years. Gschwellti is still popular here. I remember one time, an American cousin came to visit us. It happened to be my son’s birthday. His birthday meal was Gschwellti. My cousin was in disbelieve that a 4th grader would desire a mixed salad, and boiled potatoes for a meal. Ones everything was set up, and she tasted it, she understood.
Thanks for sharing your story, Margo! I was surprised when I first heard about boiled potatoes as a meal because it just seemed too simple, but it’s really very delicious and satisfying.