Serve this hearty gratin as a main dish or at a potluck. It’s good hot or at room temperature. The recipe is inspired by one I saw in the New York Times. I am using fresh kale right now, but you could also use frozen kale, collards, turnip greens, or others. Feel free to use what you have available in season and on hand. The hardest part of this recipe is remembering to start the rice cooking about 2 hours before you want to eat (unless you have some cooked and on hand ready to use!).
• 1/2 to 1 pound kale, preferably cavolo nero, stemmed only if stems are thick and tough, washed thoroughly and cut in slivers (use the larger amount if you have it - I only had 1/2# and that amount looked "skimpy" after being combined with the cabbage)
• 1 pound cabbage, preferably savoy cabbage, quartered, cored and cut in slivers
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 2-4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
• 6 leaves fresh sage, chopped
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• Optional - Salt, preferably kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste
• 2 eggs
• 2 cups rice, preferably a short grain rice like Arborio, or brown rice, cooked
• 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (3/4 cup, loosely packed)
• 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, preferably whole wheat
Cook rice before chopping vegetables, or use some previously cooked rice that may be in your refrigerator or freezer.
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a two-quart casserole baking dish.
2. Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender and translucent, about five minutes.
3. Stir in the garlic, sage and thyme, and cook for another minute until fragrant.
4. Stir in the kale. Cook in the liquid left on the leaves after washing until the kale begins to wilt. Stir often, and when most of the kale has wilted, add the cabbage and salt.
5. Add 1/2 cup water, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes until the water has evaporated; the kale and cabbage should be wilted and fragrant but still have some texture and color.
5. Add pepper, taste and adjust salt.
6. Beat the eggs in a bowl, and stir in the cooked vegetables, the rice and cheese.
7. Stir together well, and scrape into the baking dish.
8. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top, and drizzle on the remaining olive oil.
9. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until firm and browned on the top. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve hot or warm.
Yield: Serves 6 as a main dish but many more at a potluck.
Advance preparation: This can be made a day ahead and reheated or simply brought to room temperature. Or prepare the vegetables through step 1 a day ahead, and assemble the dish the next day.
(Photo: Fresh sage, lemon thyme, marjoram)
(Photo: kale, cabbage, farm-fresh eggs)
(Photo: Garlic and cippolini onions - our last onions from 2009 growing season)
(Photo: Cabbage, kale, onions, garlic, and herbs in cast iron skillet)
(Photo: Eggs, rice, and feta cheese mixture)
(Photo: Egg mixture with cooked kale and cabbage and seasonings added)
(Photo: Kale and Cabbage Gratin in the baking dish almost ready to put in the oven)
(Photo: Last step - topping with bread crumbs and remaining olive oil drizzled on top)
(Photo: Kale and Cabbage Gratin - done, cooling, and smelling too good to wait to eat!)
Serve with a hearty whole grain bread, some other cooked vegetable (something colorful like carrots or beets or stewed/fresh tomatoes) and some fruit in season.
Yum, yum - the sage seasoning makes the house smell faintly of Thanksgiving while cooking, but the lemon thyme makes your hands and kitchen smell like a summer herb garden. Enjoy!
Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!
Diana Dyer, MS, RD