Rich and cheesy kale gratin [Vegetarian]

Jaymi's Notes:
This dish is as simple to make as the flavor is intriguing. The garlic that is sauteed with the kale, and the nutmeg that is stirred into the cheese sauce give this just the right oomph.

One mistake I made while cooking this was not chopping the kale into small enough pieces. It made it really difficult to spoon out a portion from the casserole dish or to get a decent fork-full. I recommend chopping the kale into about 1 inch by 1 inch pieces -- small enough to be able to have the cheese sauce blend into the mix uniformly, and to be able to easily eat the meal once it is dished.

This is really rich so definitely consider this a side dish, or at least serve it with some lighter sides like a fresh salad or a mild soup so the richness of the cheese is balanced. I also lightened it up by making half the cheese sauce as called for and using 1% milk instead of whole milk for the sauce.

More on The Cooking Project.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

Kelly's Recipe:

I have a very healthy number of kale plants to harvest over the next couple of months, and I've been holding back from cooking with it so far. My husband gets tired of it quickly, and it's really not his favourite vegetable, so I've focused more on the beefsteak and cherry tomatoes that are still ripening on the vines. However, I've spent a lot of time sitting in a hospital with a family member over the last month and I've been craving some dark leafy vegetables instead of the carb-laden things you can get in hospital coffee shops.

To appease my husband and because my daughter has been feeling under the weather and wanted something homey to eat, I made this quite rich kale gratin and then everybody was happy. A little of this goes a long way so you could feed five or six people with it as a side dish, but it was also delicious as a reheated leftover the next day.

This recipe is from the website Food52.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

Kale Gratin

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
6-7 ounces kale, washed, stem removed, and chopped (about 8 c chopped)
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon butter, plus more to grease the pan
1 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup whole milk
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 ounces Gruyère cheese, finely shredded
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely shredded

1. Preheat oven to 375F; grease a medium-sized gratin dish with butter.

2. In a large, deep-sided pan with a lid, heat oil over medium heat; once hot, add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add 1 cup water, turn heat up to between medium-high and high, and add kale. Add 1/3 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper; cover pan and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain greens to remove water; put greens back into the pan they were cooked in.

3. Mix shredded cheeses together; set aside 1/2 cup to use as topping. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter; whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in milk and a pinch freshly grated nutmeg; bring up to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer 1 minute. Turn off heat and whisk in shredded cheeses, except reserved 1/2 cup for topping. Taste cheese sauce and add salt and pepper as desired.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

4. Pour cheese sauce onto greens and stir to combine. Transfer greens and sauce to prepared gratin dish and spread out in an even layer; top with reserved 1/2 cup cheese. Bake 20 minutes until cheese bubbles. Preheat broiler and broil a couple minutes until cheese is browned in spots.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

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