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Creamy Winter Greens Gratin

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Serves four as a side dish.

You can make this gratin with your choice of spinach, Swiss chard, kale, or broccoli raab. You’ll need to boil the greens first, following the instructions below. You can also substitute any hard cheese for the Parmigiano.

  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2-1/2 oz. bacon (about 3 strips) or 1-1/2 oz. thinly sliced pancetta
  • 2 cups cooked winter greens (spinach, Swiss chard, kale, or broccoli raab)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, or a combination of Parmigiano and another hard cheese like Gruyère, Emmental, or aged Gouda
Prep and cook the greens:

To get the 2 cups of cooked greens you need for the gratin, be sure to start out with the amount of raw greens specified below.

Cut off and discard the tough stems (use a small, sharp paring knife and trim around the stem). Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, submerge all the greens, and cook just until tender (see cooking times below). Drain well and then spread on a towel to absorb excess moisture. If the greens still seem very wet, squeeze them gently to remove excess liquid.

Spinach
Start with 1 lb. mature spinach, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped to yield about 7 cups tightly packed (or 12 oz.); cook for 30 seconds, just until wilted.

Broccoli raab
Start with a 1-lb. bunch broccoli raab, tough lower stems removed (almost half the bunch), as well as any discolored leaves, and the rest very roughly chopped to yield about 6 heaping cups; cook for 2 min.

Swiss chard
Start with 1-3/4 lb. chard, stems cut away and reserved for another use (slice, freeze, and add to your next vegetable soup) and leaves roughly chopped to yield about 9-1/2 cups (or 12 oz.); cook for 1 min.

Kale
Start with 1-1/4 pounds kale, tough stems trimmed away, leaves roughly chopped to yield 6 cups tightly packed; cook for 8 min.

Assemble and bake the gratin:

Heat the oven to 400°F. Have ready a shallow 4-cup ceramic gratin dish or casserole dish (any shape is fine as long as it’s shallow). Melt 1 Tbs. of the butter and toss it in a small bowl with the breadcrumbs and a pinch of kosher salt and a little ground pepper; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and garlic to a boil over medium-high heat (watch that it doesn’t boil over), immediately lower the heat, and simmer vigorously until the cream reduces to about 3/4 cup, 4 to 8 min. (Don’t over-reduce.) Take the pan off the heat and remove and discard the garlic cloves. Let the cream cool slightly, stirring occasionally to keep a skin from forming. Season with 1/4 tsp. of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon or pancetta over medium heat until crisped and browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to paper towels, and carefully pour off most of the excess fat in the skillet (but don’t wipe it clean). Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. butter to the skillet and let it melt. Add the cooked greens, season with 1/4 tsp. salt if using bacon (omit the salt if using pancetta), and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 min. Transfer the greens to the gratin dish and spread them evenly.

Crumble the bacon or pancetta over the greens. Sprinkle on the cheese. Pour the seasoned cream over all, and top with the buttered breadcrumbs. Bake until the gratin is brown and bubbly, about 25 min. Let rest for 10 to 15 min. before serving.

For a change, serve these gratins individually. Just divide ingredients among four small gratin dishes and bake as directed above.

Creamy Winter Greens Gratin Recipe

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on four servings; Calories (kcal): 330; Fat (g): fat g 31; Fat Calories (kcal): 280; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 19; Protein (g): protein g 7; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 8; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 410; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 105; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This is my go- to gratin dish. I have served this over the years to several different friends and they still talk about it!

OMG - have made this the past 3 Thanksgivings - it is now an annual request. I used Collard greens - not on this list, but work beautifully. I treat like the kale. Can't go wrong with this!

I used the spinach: make sure to have enough - the spinach will settle to a tiny fraction of raw volume. This is amazing. Very rich; you do not feel as if you're eating "greens..." A gold standard at our Thanksgiving table, and a very elegant, gourmet dish for dinner with friends.

Love this. I've used all different greens and all different cheeses and they are all good. Love this with roasted meat and mashed potatoes.

Whenever asked to bring a vegetable side dish for a winter dinner - I go to this recipe! I've also made it with a combination of the greens mentioned. So good...

Awesome--I used kale, and it was absolutely perfect. I'm making it again this week with chard. I'd recommend serving it as a main dish, not a side.

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