Renee Erickson’s Lacinato Kale Gratin has become one of our favorite side dishes. The crispy kale baked in Parmesan and cream is so easy to make. Pair it with roasted potatoes and a juicy steak or a whole roasted chicken and you have a fast, simple dinner that is sure to impress. It’s equally good for a week night dinner or for a side dish for your next holiday meal.
Piled high into a gratin dish raw and layered with sharp cheddar cheese, lacinato kale makes a most heavenly gratin—the leaves on the edges get fluttery and crisp, while the center turns to a melting pot of kale, cream, and cheese. It’s perfect winter food, if you ask me.
If you’d like to make this a bit ahead of time, bake it as directed and let it cool to room temperature a few hours before dinner. Before serving, top the gratin with about 1⁄2 cup additional grated sharp cheddar cheese and reheat the gratin in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, until it is bubbling again.
Note: It’s important to get the tough center ribs out of each kale leaf. I hold the fat end of the stem in one hand, and pull the down toward the tip of each leaf with the other hand, stripping the greens off as I go.
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Lacinato Kale Gratin
- 3 bunches lacinato kale, about 1 ½ pounds total before trimming, tough ribs removed, chopped into 3-inch section
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, such as Beecher’s Flagship, cut into 1⁄8-inch-thick slices
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pile the kale in a 9-by-13-inch (or similar) baking dish. (It will seem like an overabundance of kale, towering above the pan’s edge, but you want it all.) Season the kale with the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste, then carefully drizzle the cream over it. Spread out the cheese slices over the kale.
- Place the gratin dish on a baking sheet to catch any cream that drips out as the gratin cooks. Bake the gratin for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cream thickens and the cheese is nicely browned. (Err on the side of golden brown, as opposed to coffee brown, if you’re going to reheat the gratin again before serving.)
- Let the gratin cool for a few minutes, then serve.