Kale is at it again. The dark leafy green has taken over my salads and my dinner sides. And the benefits of it are undeniable - here's proof! I’ve been tossing it raw in olive oil, I’ve been sautéing it, and I’ve been making a gratin out of it—which just means baking it with a breadcrumb and Parmesan cheese topping. Here’s why I love it: it retains texture even after it’s been cooked, unlike spinach which tends to become soft and mushy (a characteristic that works in some dishes when you don’t want to detect its texture, but not for greens and beans). For garlicy, oniony greens and beans, I want the stems to have a little crunch and the leaves to still be whole and leafy.
This would make such a great side dish for any weeknight dinner. I also thought about doubling the portions and making it a meatless meal in itself. Panko bread crumbs, if you haven’t already caught on, are one of the best ingredients to enter my life. The crunchy layer offers another dimension to the dish which is traditionally considered done after the sauteeing stage. But it works so, so well as a gratin.
Greens and beans gratin
Yields 4 servings
2 T olive oil
1 T butter plus 2 T butter, divided
1 sweet onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp salt plus ½ tsp salt, divided
Freshly cracked black pepper
8 large fistfuls kale (probably about 8 oz)
2 T apple cider vinegar
About 4 oz chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian)
1 cup cannellini beans
½ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
½ tsp garlic powder
4 oven safe shallow ramekins, or 1 baking dish if you don’t want individual portions
Heat oil and butter in a large sauté pan over low heat. Add onion and cook until lightly golden and caramelized, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ½ tsp salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Throw in garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add kale (it will feel like a TON of kale but it cooks down to be a fraction of the size). Cook for 3-4 minutes until soft and wilted, tossing and turning it over in pan with tongs. Add vinegar and stir as it deglazes the pan. Add in chicken stock and continue tossing with tongs. Stir in beans and cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat and set aside. In a small bowl, combine panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, freshly cracked black pepper, and 2 T melted butter. Use a fork to stir and fold until thoroughly mixed. Divide kale mixture into four oven safe ramekins, pouring in any remaining juice, as well. Then top each one with a sprinkling of the panko mixture. With oven rack in the highest position, turn on oven broiler to Low and wait a few minutes for it to come to temperature. Then place ramekins on the top rack and broil for 4-5 minutes until golden brown and crispy.