This Kale Gratin walks the line between healthy and indulgent. A great side for Thanksgiving, Christmas or a cozy winter night.
Goodness gracious I can't believe we're already less than a week away from Thanksgiving. They say the older you get, the faster time slips by, and I believe it.
Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday right after Fourth of July, but it's a close second. A day about being grateful and eating lots and lots of delicious food - what's not to love? Well, I'll tell you what. Grocery stores. They're THE WORST this time of year.
A few days ago I stopped into my local market to do my usual weekly shopping and the madness had already begun. The place was crawling with Turkey-Day shoppers. They seem to come out of the woodwork around holidays, and by "they," I'm referring to people who don't step foot in a grocery store any other time of year. They bumble obliviously through the aisles looking confused, eyeballs glued to lists, with their carts conveniently parked so that no one else can get by.
As someone who spends a lot of time in grocery stores, this has become one of my biggest pet peeves. Normally I can zip in and out, dodging old ladies and blitzing through self-check out lanes fast enough to win a contest (seriously, come at me). But around the holidays I always need to budget extra time for shopping, and that's precisely when I never have any extra time to spare (honestly, who does??).
Okay, hold up. Let's back track a minute. At the end of the day, I should just be grateful to have a grocery store, the money to afford to shop there, and the health to peruse the aisles swiftly and efficiently. I am. I promise I am, but sometimes it's easy to forget. Thanks for letting me vent that out.
Now that I got that off my chest, let's talk about this kale gratin. Grah-tahn. Say it! It sounds so much better with the French pronunciation than the butchered American slang that rhymes with "rotten". The word "gratin" simply refers to a French cooking technique that involves topping a dish with breadcrumbs, cheese, or both, and broiled to crispy, melty perfection. I never met one I didn't like.
I've made many versions of a kale gratin before, but this is the one I always come back to time and time again. My recipe is adapted from the "Winter Greens Gratin" found in the December 2012 issue of Bon Appetit. The original recipe calls for a mixture of kale and mustard greens, and I'm here to tell you that you can use either one, both, or any combination of hearty winter greens you have on hand. After closing down Soulberri at the end of October, we had quite a bit of kale leftover, so that is what I opted to use.
The prep can be a bit lengthy, with de-stemming the kale, blanching, making the sauce, etc., but I promise you it's worth it. I've done my best to cut down on the steps a bit, but you will still need to budget a reasonable amount of time to make it. The upside is that it feeds 8-10 people (or more if there's lots of other food on the table) and it's wonderful made in advance, making it perfect for a holiday that justifies a spending a little extra time in the kitchen.
Not interested in Kale Gratin? I have a few other tasty gratin recipes that would be just as nice on your Thanksgiving table along with the turkey (check out my turkey carving tutorial!):
Fennel + Onion Gratin
Celery Root + Parsnip Gratin
Classic Potato Gratin