Cauliflower and Kale Gratin

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)

Ingredients:

Photo by Tim Hout (Gourmet Magazine)

Photo by Tim Hout (Gourmet Magazine)

  • 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

Equipment:

  • a 3- to 3 1/2 -quart flameproof shallow baking dish (not glass)

Instructions:

  • 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.

NOTES:

  • 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!

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