Kale Gratin

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Winter Greens Gratin

Gratins are a great way to eat your vegetables, especially in the winter. Who can resist bubbling pots of roasted vegetables and winter greens, crispy golden on the top and cheesy-creamy in the center? Hearty earthy greens, such as kale, spinach and chard, stand up exceedingly well to rich bechamel and melted cheese (what wouldn’t?) Serve in a large gratin dish for family style dining or spoon into individual ramekins for fancy serving. Either way, you can be sure that everyone will be eating their greens.

Kale Gratin
Feel free to add other greens or vegetables, such as chopped broccoli or cauliflower. Pecorino or Gruyere cheese may be substituted for the Parmigiano. Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 to 2 bunches kale (Tuscan or curly), tough ribs removed, coarsely chopped (about 10 cups)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese, divided
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the oil in a deep skillet or wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute 1 minute. Add the kale and saute until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until light golden, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cream. Simmer, stirring, until thickened. Whisk in 1/4 cup cheese, the salt, pepper and nutmeg until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Pour over the kale and stir to combine. Transfer to a buttered gratin dish or individual ramekins. Top with the remaining cheese. Transfer to oven and bake until the tops of the gratins are golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Holiday Sides: Kale, Quinoa, Pomegranate Salad

kale quinoa salad tastefood

~ Kale, Red Cabbage, Quinoa, Carrots, Pomegranate, Raisins, Almonds ~

Just because there’s a chill in the air doesn’t mean we should skip fresh salads. In fact, at this time of year it’s more important than ever that we boost our immune system with healthy greens and grains – and not just for keeping the doctor away. Hardy cold weather salads are a welcome addition to any holiday table. Deeply flavorful and unabashedly colorful, wintery salads are hefty enough to absorb copious handfuls of nuts, fruit and grains while providing a beautiful addition to a special meal. Even the non-meaters will gobble them up, while the vegetarians will be very pleased with this substantial option.

This is one of my favorite cold weather salads. Brimming with curly kale, red cabbage, and quinoa, it could be a meal in a bowl. The addition of dried raisins, toasted almonds and glistening pomegranate seeds adds all the extra bling necessary to invite this salad to your Thanksgiving dinner. The key to this recipe is to massage the kale. Yes, that’s right. By gently rubbing the leaves in oil, lemon and salt before assembling, the leaves will be coaxed into a softer and milder version of themselves, making for a delicious raw salad.

Kale, Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad

Unlike most salads, this may be entirely prepared up to 1 hour in advance, which is ideal for entertaining. Serves 6 to 8.

Kale:
1 large bunch curly green kale, ribs removed, torn in bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Dressing:
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:
1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage (or radicchio)
1 to 2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 small shallot, very thinly sliced
1/3 cup cooked quinoa (I used red)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

For the kale: Place the kale in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Using your hands, gently rub the leaves to coat for about 1 minute. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes (or refrigerate for up to 2 hours).

For the dressing: Whisk the garlic, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify.

Assemble the salad: Add the cabbage, carrots, shallot and quinoa to the kale. Add half of the dressing and toss to combine. Scatter the raisins, almonds and pomegranate seeds over. Gently toss with more dressing to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

Skillet Dinners: Spicy Sausage, Mustard Greens and Cauliflower

sausage greens tastefood

~ a farmers’ market bounty in a skillet ~

Last week I came home from the farmers’ market with an armful of mustard. I shop with my eyes and couldn’t resist the bunches of mizuna mustard leaves – frizzy purple, spiky red, scalloped green – not to mention their sunny flowers strung together in tidy bouquets. Since then, they’ve made themselves at home in my fridge, while I’ve reached for pinches and handfuls at each meal, tossing in salads, sprinkling as garnish. Yesterday was our last hurrah. I up-ended the remaining mustard into this quick one-dish skillet dinner, along with my other market acquisitions: spicy Italian sausages, violet-tinged baby cauliflower, orange cherry tomatoes and a few handfuls of curly kale for good measure.

Spicy Sausage, Mustard Greens and Cauliflower in a Skillet
Serves 4

Extra-virgin olive oil, divided
12 ounces Italian sausages, sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 cups cauliflower florets, any color works
Salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 generous bunches mustard greens and/or kale, tough stems removed
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage in one layer and cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once. With a slotted spoon transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. If the skillet is dry, add 1 more tablespoon oil. Add the cauliflower and a sprinkle of salt; sauté until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the greens, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cumin, paprika and black pepper. Saute until the greens are tender and bright in color, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sausage. Cover partially, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm with couscous or farro.

Massaged Kale Salad

Kale Carrot Salad 1

~ Kale Salad with Carrots, Cranberries, Sunflower Seeds and a little TLC ~

Have you massaged your kale lately? Seriously. And don’t you worry, this superfood is not high maintenance requiring prima donna treatment. Quite the contrary, in fact. Kale is pretty easy going, simple to prepare, tossed in salads, blanched or baked in the oven – all modest and unassuming stuff for a cruciferous veggie with rock star status when it comes to nutrition. And rock star, indeed: Kale is packed with vitamins, nutrients and minerals. It’s an excellent source of  antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to prevent heart disease and cancer. It also has tough and sturdy leaves that can be difficult to digest when eaten raw in large quantities. So what to do if you love kale and want to join its healthy fan club? Try a little massage with lemon juice, oil and a pinch of salt before tossing in the salad bowl. Rub the leaves for a few minutes to coat the leaves, and you will be rewarded with a slightly softened version of the hearty kale leaf with heightened flavor – and a big bowl of healthy kale salad for all to enjoy. That is, if you feel like sharing.

kale carrot salad v tastefood

Massaged Kale Salad with Carrots, Cranberries and Sunflower Seeds

Serves 4

Kale:
1 large bunch lacinato or green curly kale – tough ribs removed, leaves torn or chopped
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Dressing:
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:
2 skinny carrots, thinly sliced
2 scallions, green and white parts thinly sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds

For the kale: Place the kale in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Massage the leaves for 2 minutes to coat and slightly soften. Set aside.

For the dressing: Whisk all of the ingredients except the oil in a small bowl. Add oil in a steady stream, whisking to emulsify.

Assemble salad: Add carrots, scallions and cranberries to the kale. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds.

Kale and Farro Soup

kale squash farro tastefoodxx

 ~ Kale and Farro Soup ~

I don’t usually make New Years resolutions, but if I did, it would be to get my kids to eat more kale. Do you think they’ll notice the kale in this stew?

January is not only bowl-month in our home, it’s kale month. Bowls of nourishing soups and stews are perfect for the cold weather and a comforting alternative to the highfalutin presentations of Christmas past. And kale is everywhere right now, flamboyantly in season touting deeply colored emphatically shaped leaves, towering in piles on market shelves and tables. Good timing is all I have to say. Kale is a superfood, packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants, and an excellent way to jump start the new year in good health. And why hold back with just one nutritious ingredient? Kale teams up with farro, a nutty ancient grain packed with protein and fiber and chunks of  vitamin-rich butternut squash in this healthy, hearty soup.

Farro, Kale and Butternut Squash Soup

Either curly green or lacinato kale may be used for the soup. Remove tough ribs from leaves before chopping.

Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup semi-pearled farro (or barley)
6 cups chicken stock, plus additional stock as necessary
2 cups cubed butternut squash
1 (15-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
1 (2-inch) chunk of rind of Parmesan cheese
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped green kale leaves
Finely grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the farro and stir to coat.
2. Add the chicken stock, squash, tomatoes, cheese chunk, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer until the squash is tender and farro is cooked, about 30 minutes. (Add more stock to desired consistency if soup is too thick.) Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired.
3. Stir in the kale leaves and simmer until the kale brightens in color and wilts, 1 to 2 minutes. Discard Parmesan rind and the bay leaf. Ladle the soup into bowls and pass the cheese for sprinkling over the soup.

Thanksgiving Side: Spinach Gratin with Cheesy Breadcrumbs

~ Spinach Gratin with Cheesy Breadcrumbs ~

You might also call this a “fill-in-the-blank gratin.” I had spinach in the fridge, but other sturdy greens such as kale or Swiss chard will work equally well in this recipe. The preparation is simple, consisting of sautéing the greens-of-your-choice, followed by a quick nap of cream. A crunchy topping of breadcrumbs and cheese finishes the gratins in the oven. And I dare say if there is someone in your family who is less inclined to favor these leafy superfoods, this gratin may be just the vehicle to get them munching.

Spinach Gratin

There is no thickener such as egg or flour in this recipe, so the results are akin to creamed spinach in a cup, with a cheesy breadcrumb topping. Because of this, I like to serve the gratin in individual ramekins. Makes enough for 4 individual gratins.

1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
12 ounces fresh spinach leaves, coarsely chopped if large
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 375 F. Mix breadcrumbs, cheese and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper together in a small bowl; set aside. Heat oil in a large pot or deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and red chili flakes. Sauté 1 minute. Add spinach, cover pot and cook over medium-low heat until leaves soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and salt. Simmer, uncovered, 1 minute. Divide spinach between 4 (3/4-cup) ramekins. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cheese. Bake in oven until tops are golden and gratins are bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.

If you like this, you might enjoy these seasonal gratin recipes:
Potato Gratins from TasteFood
Broccoli Blue Cheese Gratin from Leite’s Culinaria
Roasted Yellow Beet and Ricotta Tian from TasteFood
Artichoke Hearst au Gratin from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Cauliflower au Gratin from TasteFood

Baked Shrimp and Kale with Chermoula

Baked Shrimp and Kale with Chermoula

~ Shrimp, Kale, Chermoula, Oven ~

It’s not fair to say that this recipe is all about the chermoula sauce. After all, shrimp and kale are no slouches when it comes to ingredients. It’s just that the chermoula does something wicked to this dish. Let me first tell you what chermoula is: a North African paste including cilantro, parsley, lemon, paprika, cumin and garlic. Typically chermoula is used as a marinade for fish, but I’ve used it with beef, chicken, thick slices of eggplant and cauliflower steaks; it always tastes good. So good, you might be tempted to eat it with a spoon or swipe a hunk of bread through it and call it a snack. In the case of this recipe, I dropped chermoula-coated shrimp over a bed of kale and popped the whole lot in the oven. It was almost too easy considering how good it turned out.

Baked Shrimp and Kale with Chermoula

For a smokier version, substitute the paprika with smoked paprika. Serves 4.

Chermoula:
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound large shrimp, deveined, shells removed
1 bunch lacinato kale, tough ribs removed
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Heat oven to 375 F.  Combine the chermoula ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix well. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Tear the kale leaves into large pieces. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch rectangular baking dish. Arrange the kale in one layer in the baking dish. Lightly drizzle with olive oil. Dump the shrimp into the baking dish and arrange in one layer over the kale. Spoon any remaining chermoula over the kale and shrimp. Bake until the shrimp are bright in color and just cooked through, 20-25 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Grilled Sriracha Chicken Skewers
Moroccan Lamb Stew
Coconut Shrimp Curry

Sausage, Kale and Tomato Ragout with Poached Egg and Chick Peas

Yes, I know it’s 100 degrees outside. It’s also hot in Tunisia, from where this recipe gets its inspiration. Shakshuka is a traditional Tunisian breakfast composed of simmered tomatoes, peppers, aromatics and poached eggs. It’s meant to be spicy which is a nifty DIY method for keeping cool in the Saharan heat. (The more you sweat, the more you cool off). As for me, I’ll take anything spicy for the sake of spice, regardless of temperature and geography – especially when it’s screams comfort food like this. The Tunisians call shakshuka breakfast, but I’ve added sausage, kale and chickpeas (why hold back?) and prefer to call it dinner. It’s delicious as is, served with crusty bread for mopping up the sauce and yolk. For a complete meal, spoon prepared couscous into shallow serving bowls. Make a well in the center of the couscous and ladle the ragout and and egg into the center of the couscous. All you need as an accompaniment is green salad, chilled wine – and a fan.

Sausage, Kale and Tomato Ragout with Poached Eggs and Chick Peas

Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 pound hot Italian or chorizo sausages, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 large garlic clove
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons harissa or hot sauce, to taste
1 small bunch tuscan or green curly kale, tough stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
4 to 6 large eggs
Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Transfer the sausages with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Discard the oil from the pan, but do not rinse out the skillet.
2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the onion to the skillet and saute over medium heat until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes, scraping up any brown bits. Add the garlic, paprika, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Return the sausages to the pan and add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and salt. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning. If more heat is desired, add the harissa or hot sauce to taste.
3. Simmer the ragout, partially covered, over medium-low heat, to slightly thicken and allow the flavors to develop, about 20 minutes, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon. Stir in the kale and cook until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes.
4. Make an indentation or well in the ragout with a spoon. Crack one egg in a small bowl and gently slide the egg into the indentation. Repeat with the remaining eggs, taking care to not overlap the eggs. Cover the skillet and simmer over medium-low heat until the egg whites are set but the yolks remain runny, about 10 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat. Serve family style or spoon the ragout with one egg into individual serving bowls. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley.

 

Swiss Chard and Kale Frittata

Swiss Chard and Kale Frittata

For the past month I’ve been receiving a box of organic produce each week from a new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the Bay area called Full Circle. They are the West Coast’s leading organic produce delivery service, and have recently expanded into Northern California, supplying farm fresh ingredients from local farmers to the Bay area community. They reached out to me with an invitation to try their service. Since I am a sucker for produce and buy organic as much as possible, how could I resist? Now, each Wednesday morning I wake to a carton outside my front door filled with a selection of fruits and vegetables supplied by local organic farms. It feels like Christmas. I never know what I will get (although, they are happy to supply any requests I might have), but I prefer the surprise. It saves me a few trips to the market, and my refrigerator stays full with just-fresh produce that I use for cooking inspiration.

I made this tart as an appetizer for dinner last night. It was a great way to use the Swiss Chard I received in my box this week. I also added kale, since I always have kale in my refrigerator. I served the tart at room temperature and cut it in random pieces that I arranged on a cutting board for everyone to eat with their fingers. It was a nice rustic presentation that tasted great with a glass of chilled rosé on a warm summer evening.

Swiss Chard and Kale Frittata
Loosely adapted from a recipe by Mario Batali

Serves 4 to 6 as a light course or 8 as an appetizer

2 pounds Swiss chard and/or kale, washed, tough stems removed
Salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 cup Italian parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I use Panko)

Heat the oven to 350 F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chard and kale. Blanch until the greens soften and brighten in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the greens, then refresh under cold water. Lay the leaves on a kitchen towel and blot dry. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large (12-inch) oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, chili flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until onions are limp and turning golden brown. Add the chard and kale. Sauté until the greens are wilted and all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Remove the skillet from heat.
Whisk eggs, 1/4 cup grated cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper together in a bowl. Pour over the greens. Gently nudge the greens around to evenly distribute the eggs. Mix the remaining 1/4 cheese and breadcrumbs together in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the tart. Bake in oven until eggs are set and the top of the tart is tinged golden brown, about 45  minutes. If desired, run the tart under the broiler to further brown the top, 1 minute. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Red Quinoa and Kale Slaw

Red Quinoa and Kale Slaw

I served this Quinoa and Kale Slaw the other night as an accompaniment to grilled pork tenderloin. Quinoa is a hearty, gluten-free grain packed with nutrients. It’s tiny seeds are toothsome and nutty, yet, in my opinion, somewhat wanting for flavor and brightness when served alone. I prefer to tumble the little sprouted grains with a smattering of leaves, chopped vegetables and spices for a healthy and immensely satisfying side dish. This recipe pairs red quinoa with handfuls of chopped Tuscan kale. While it may sound like a lot of kale, the sturdy greens easily make themselves at home in the salad and provide a perfect foil to the quinoa seeds. The result is akin to a cole slaw, which, in this case, would be kale slaw.

Red Quinoa and Kale Slaw
Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 cups red quinoa
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely diced
1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Tabasco or hot sauce
1 bunch Tuscan (Lacinato) kale, tough ribs removed, chopped

Bring quinoa, stock and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cover and reduce to heat to low. Simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa grains sprout, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and olive oil and toss to coat. Cool slightly. Add remaining ingredients, except for the kale, and toss to combine. Stir in the kale. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets, Wheat Berries and Goat Cheese
Roasted Provençal Vegetable Salad
Fregola Sarda with Asparagus and Lemon