Reprinted with permission by Chronicle Books from Fast, Fresh & Green by Susie Middleton
When I put together this lightly creamy gratin, the red in the sun-dried tomatoes and the green in the kale made me think of Christmas, though I’d be just as happy to eat it on New Year’s Day with a good baked ham. No matter when you serve it, it’s a good way to get smaller people to eat their greens. I find that the cream and cheese in this gratin mellow the earthy flavor of kale, and with the help of sun-dried tomatoes, they give this dish a very pleasing flavor.
½ tsp. unsalted butter
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 Tbsp. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch kale, stemmed, leaves ripped into pieces
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Rub a 5- or 6-cup shallow gratin dish with the butter. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmigiano, olive oil, and a pinch of salt.
Fill a wide, 4- to 5-qt, Dutch-oven three-quarters full with water, add 2 tsp. salt, and bring to a boil. Add the kale to the boiling water and start timing immediately. Taste a leaf after 5 minutes. It should not be tough or rubbery. If it is, cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Drain the kale in a colander in the sink and run cool water over it just until it’s 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 additional water.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a boil, watching it carefully. As soon as it boils (don’t let it boil over), turn the heat down and simmer until it reduces by one-quarter, about 5 minutes (watch carefully; you should have 3/4 cup). Remove the cream from the heat and season it with 1/4 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Add the sun-dried tomatoes and the cheese to the bowl of kale. Loosely toss everything together. (The mixture doesn’t have to be too thoroughly combined; just be sure to break up any big clumps of cheese.) Spread out the mixture evenly in the gratin dish. Pour the cream over all. Cover the gratin with the bread crumb mixture, spreading it out as evenly as possible.
Bake the gratin until the crumbs are well browned and the cream has reduced to below the top of the gratin, 20 to 25 minute