Kale gratin

With a busy January bearing down on us, my domestic impulses have been running high as I try to get as much cooking done beforehand as I can. I’ve been fieldstripping beets and shredding cabbage for borscht, putting up jars of frozen peanut-tomato soup base, making roux for gumbo, portioning out pulled pork for Josh’s lunch, freezing a batch of vegan black bean burger patties, and generally being a kitchen terror.

Tonight’s dinner was the sort of cook-and-freeze-half thing I’ve always meant to be organized enough to actually pull off. It’s a kale gratin based on Kurt Beecher Dammeier’s recipe in Pure Flavor. You could mess around with this quite a bit. I think a little quinoa or barley wouldn’t go amiss, and/or a touch of parmesan cheese.

The “Better Than Bouillon” is a tip from Jerry the Got Soup guy. He’s right; it’s pretty good, and a lot better than the packaged vegetable broths I’ve tried. Not that I’m surprised — Jerry the Got Soup guy wouldn’t steer me wrong.

Kale gratin

a scant two cups of leftover cooked long-grain brown rice
30 leaves of lacinato kale
a sploosh of olive oil
1 smallish onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup water with 1/2 tsp “Better Than Bouillon” veggie base
1 cup milk
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
a little nutmeg
2 large eggs
5 1/2 ounces of semihard cheese such as Cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup of homemade bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 and get out a couple of 6-cup pyrex baking dishes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While it’s heating up, wash the kale, strip the stems out, and cut the leaves into strips no more than an inch wide. Blanch the kale for a couple of minutes, drain it, and rinse it to cool. Gently squeeze out the excess water.

In a large bowl, mix the kale, rice, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. It’s convenient to mix this with your hands.

In a large, wide saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the onion and cook until it starts to brown. Add your broth and boil for a couple of minutes until it’s reduced by half. Take the heat down to medium-low and stir in the milk along with the kale mixture. Then remove it from the heat entirely and stir in the eggs and all but 1/4 cup of the cheese.

Divide the mixture between the two baking dishes and top with the rest of the cheese and the bread crumbs. Bake uncovered for forty minutes. Let rest on the counter for about five minutes.

You can freeze one of the gratins for up to three months. Reheat, covered, in a 350-degree oven for 30 – 40 minutes.

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