How does one make kale a comfort food? They combine it with potatoes in a béchamel sauce and bake it in the oven until it becomes golden and bubbly; Potato and Kale Gratin – a new, and healthier, comfort food option!
A gratin is a type of casserole that has been baked with a cheese or breadcrumb crust on the top. The two are pretty much interchangeable here in North America, but we often use casserole to describe a dish that is cooked similarly to a gratin, yet includes meat. That’s how I distinguish the two. Oh, and gratins must have cheese.
I think a gratin – and a casserole – is the best comfort foods on the planet. They make a great meal, they are very homey and rustic, they don’t require much planning and no flashy or pretentious ingredients and they are always inexpensive and delicious.
Did you know that gratins and casseroles are the most likely and common food item prepared and given to a family who has just suffered a loss? Social gatherings directly after a funeral or burial have more casseroles on the buffet table than any other dish combined. If that doesn’t spell comfort, I don’t know what does!
Although most casseroles or gratins have meat in them, Potato and Kale Gratin is a vegetarian dish, which is not as common. I love to prepare gratins at home for my vegetarians. I must state though that they are the type of vegetarians who will consume eggs and dairy, so this gratin works in our home.
When it comes to making a gratin, root vegetables like the potato in this one, work very well and are very forgiving. It’s almost impossible to overcook a vegetable in a gratin. Sure, they might be extra soft, but that’s what makes a gratin so forgiving. A good gratin will have complementary ingredients that taste so good together; texture becomes a back-burner issue.
Potato and Kale Gratin, like most gratins and casseroles, can be switched up to suit the needs of the person preparing the dish. You can use sweet potatoes rather than white potatoes. The kale can be switched out as well. Consider using Swiss chard instead of kale if you prefer.
Even though kale and potatoes are delicious in their own right, it’s the béchamel sauce that this dish owes its attractiveness and deliciousness too. A classic béchamel made with butter, flour, and milk, is the best way to hold this gratin together and create unison between the potato and the kale.
Gratins are relatively new to Lord Byron’s Kitchen. I posted my first gratin recipe to this blog in April of 2018. I’m really not sure why it’s taken me so long to post another gratin recipe. Like I have mentioned previously, they are delicious and easy to prepare. If you love Potato and Kale Gratin, you will love my Oven Roasted Cauliflower and Cheddar Gratin as well.
Potato and Kale Gratin
- 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 pounds kale, stem remove, roughly chopped (see notes)
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a casserole dish by greasing with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, add the olive oil, potatoes, onions, salt, and pepper. Over medium-high heat, saute the potatoes until slightly browned.
- Add the kale and water. Stir to combine. Continue to cook until the water has evaporated and the kale is wilted. Remove from heat. Transfer potatoes and kale to large glass bowl. Set aside.
- Add the butter to the skillet and melt over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and stir into the butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Next, sprinkle the flour over the butter mixture. Whisk into the butter and allow the flour to cook for 4-5 minutes. Continuously move the mixture around with your whisk to prevent the flour from burning.
- Pour in the milk and whisk into the butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk until the mixture becomes thick. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
- Add the potatoes and kale back into the skillet with the sauce. Add the fresh thyme leaves. Stir to combine. Transfer the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes – until potatoes are fork tender. Remove from oven. Let stand for a few minutes. Garnish and serve.