Sunday, July 24, 2011

Heating Up for Summer: Gratin of Greens

This is not exactly a summer dish. But then again, summer hasn't quite yet found its way to Northern California ... yet (there are signs, yes, there are signs!). But the cool temperatures have somehow not impacted people's gardens too much, as witnessed by the huge shopping bag full of greens deposited on my desk last week by my friend Aerial. (Thank you Aerial!)

I love me some greens, simply sauteed and maybe spinkled with a dash of vinegar, but due to some various and sundry personal issues that cropped up last week, I was in the mood for comfort food. Something warm and homey. So I whipped up this gratin, and loaded it with what I just knew would taste great on a cool summer night: bacon, cheese, toasted breadcrumbs. Oh yeah. So I veered from my usual healthy fare and gave in to my heart. Sometimes you just have to do it. (Honestly - it's not that bad... everything in the recipe is used in moderation. Omit the bacon and even the breadcrumbs and it would still be every bit as good.)

At any rate, it is quite delicious, and an excellent way to turn a mountain of greens into a manageable dish. Courtesy of Aerial, my greens of choice were Swiss chard and kale, but really, any greens will do. You just needs LOTS of them. So if you're with me here in the not-quite-hot Bay Area, give this recipe a try now; for those of you in other parts of the country where the weather is sweltering, well... tuck it away for a cold Winter's night. (Note: I served the gratin scooped over some creamy soft polenta and it was divine!)

Gratin of Greens (adapted from a Whole Foods Market recipe)
  • 4 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 8 cups chopped, packed greens (stems removed) - kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, etc.
1 cup water 

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 

  • 1 tablespoon butter
1 cup nonfat milk 

  • 2 tablespoons flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided 

  • 1 tablespoon whole wheat bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saute pan, cook bacon to desired crispness (go crispy!); place on paper towels to drain excess grease. Reserve drippings. Add the chopped greens to the bacon drippings and cook over medium heat until leaves are just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, Adding water as needed for moisture. Drain and set greens aside. In the same saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. When butter has melted, whisk in the flour until blended. Whisk constantly for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk. Continue cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in half of the grated cheese. Stir in the cooked chard and bacon, then transfer to an oiled 9x9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbling.

1 comment:

  1. Made this tonight, added a dash of red pepper flakes, and stirred it into some whole wheat spaghetti. Delicious!