Christmas Kale Gratin with Sundried Tomatoes

by Susie Middleton from Fast, Fresh & Green (Chronicle Books 2010)

Since we’re lucky enough to have kale growing here on the Vineyard in December, this gratin is a perfect way to use it on the holiday table. (The red sundried tomatoes and green kale remind me of Christmas!) Everybody loves a creamy, crumb-topped gratin, so this is also a great way to introduce kale to neophytes (or kids). You can also use this template to make gratins with other kinds of cooked greens.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Regianno
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, more for breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 bunches curly kale (about 1 1/2 pounds), stemmed, leaves ripped into two-inch pieces, to yield about 12 to 13 ounces
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped, drained, oil-packed sundried tomatoes
  • 1 1/3 cups grated gruyere or Swiss cheese

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Rub a 2-quart shallow gratin dish with the butter. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, the Parmigiano cheese, the olive oil, and a pinch of salt.

Fill a large Dutch oven or soup pot three-quarters full with water and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Add the kale to the boiling water and start timing immediately. Taste a leaf after 4 minutes. It should not be tough or rubbery. If it is, cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Drain the kale in a colander in the sink, and run cool water over it just until it is cool enough to handle. Press down on the kale to remove as much water as possible. Transfer the kale to a mixing bowl by the handful, squeezing each handful again to remove some additional water.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream and the smashed garlic to a boil, watching it carefully. As soon as it boils (don’t let it boil over), turn the heat down, and simmer the cream for 5 minutes. (It will reduce by about ¼). Take the cream off the heat and season it with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Remove the garlic (or not!).

Add the sundried tomatoes and the Gruyere or Swiss cheese to the mixing bowl of kale. Loosely toss everything together. Arrange the mixture evenly in the gratin dish. Pour and drizzle the cream overall and tamp down and smooth out with a spatula. Cover the gratin with the breadcrumb mixture, spreading it as evenly as possible. Bake the gratin until the crumbs are well browned and the cream has bubbled below the top of the gratin, 20 to 25 minutes.

Serves 6 to 7