I recently made this delicious vegetable side dish for a dinner party and everyone just loved it. It’s adapted from an Alexis Touchet recipe in Gourmet Magazine. I made a few *adaptations (added some nutmeg & parmigiano and used low fat milk and half & half rather than whole milk and heavy cream in the bechamel sauce)
(makes 8 servings)
- 1-1/2 to 2 pounds curly or *Tuscan kale (about 3 bunches)
- 2 small heads or one large head of cauliflower (3-4 lbs)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 2% milk*
- 1 cup half & half *
- 1 3/4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (about 3 firm slices of whole wheat* or white sandwich bread)
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg*
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
a 3- to 3 1/2 -quart flameproof shallow baking dish (not glass)
Strip kale leaves from stems and center ribs (discard stems and ribs). Tear or cut leaves into 2-3 inch pieces.
Cut and discard greens and core from cauliflower, then cut cauliflower into 1 1/2-inch florets.
Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Butter the baking dish.
Cook kale in a pasta pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, in 2 batches until almost tender, about 3 to 5 minutes per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking, then transfer with tongs to a colander to drain. Gently squeeze excess water from kale by handfuls and transfer to baking dish. NOTE: If using Tuscan kale do not squeeze too hard. Press on dishtowel or paper towels to remove moisture.
Cook florets in 1 batch in pot until crisp-tender, about 3 to 6 minutes, then transfer with slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking and drain well in colander. Nestle cauliflower in kale.
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in lower third.
Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking frequently, 3 minutes. Whisk in milk and half & half and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer béchamel sauce, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes, then stir in 1 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 cup (of the 3/4 cups) of grated Parmigiano cheese. Pour sauce over kale and cauliflower.
Toss together bread crumbs, oil, rest of the cheese, and 1/8 tsp each salt and pepper, then sprinkle evenly over mixture and bake gratin in oven until sauce is bubbling and crumbs are golden, 40 to 45 minutes.
If you wish the crumbs to be more golden, broil gratin under a preheated broiler, about 6 inches from heat, watching carefully, 1 to 2 minutes.
Crumb mixture can be made 2 days ahead and chilled in an airtight container.
Kale and cauliflower in sauce can be assembled 1 day ahead without crumb topping and chilled, covered. This works really well if you’re pressed for time!