Tuscan Kale Gratin For Two

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This time of year, you can never go wrong serving a vegetable gratin. The classic winter side dish, a gratin allows the most humble of root vegetables or winter greens to step into the spotlight. Pair with a simple roast chicken, pot roast or grilled pork tenderloin, throw in a green salad, and you have a fool-proof dinner party. The rich, creamy nature of a gratin insures it hearty enough to stand alone as a vegetarian entrée as well.

My only complaint with most gratin recipes is that they feed up to a dozen folks, and we are a family of two. So, I decided to revamp my recipe for spinach gratin, using Tuscan kale, and reduce the recipe to make about four servings, enough for leftovers.

Since I am just back on my feet after two weeks of discomfort from a pinched nerve and muscle spasms in my hip, I knew I had to streamline my method. Standing for any length of time is still not my strong suit.  I began by buying a package of organic Tuscan kale that had been washed and chopped. Forget heating the milk in a saucepan – I stuck the glass measuring cup in the microwave. (One less pan to wash later.)

When it came to blanching and shocking the greens, I knew I couldn’t lift a heavy pot of water, nor would I have the energy to fish the kale out of another pot of icy water, let along dry the stuff. A quick nuke in the microwave and my kale was promptly added to my gratin sauce and cooked until just wilting, then turned into my vintage Le Creuset gratin dish – the only one I managed to grab from the too-low cupboard. The topping went on in a heartbeat, once I decided to skip toasting the breadcrumbs.

And, guess what? The gratin came out just fine…

Many thanks to Lynda of “Taste Food” and to Steve of “Oui, Chef”, food-writers extraordinaire, who were the first to inspire me to begin cooking with kale.

Tuscan Kale Gratin For Two
Recipe type: side dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2, generously
A streamlined recipe for a kale gratin that serves 2, generously.
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • ¾ cup grated Gruyére cheese
  • 1 10-ounce package of organic Tuscan kale
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat the milk in a glass measuring cup for i minute in the microwave.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook over medium heat until the onion is wilted but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and hot milk. Whisk sauce until it thickens and will coat the back of a spoon. Add the nutmeg and cayenne. Stir and turn off the heat.
  4. Stir in the Gruyére.
  5. Open one small end of the bag of kale and microwave on high for 1 minute.
  6. Add kale, salt and pepper to gratin. Turn on the heat and cook kale in the sauce for 3 minutes, just until it begins to wilt. Turn into an 8-inch glass baking dish or similar sized gratin dish.
  7. Combine the panko and parmesan and sprinkle over the gratin. Dust with paprika. Top with pieces of butter.
  8. Cook 25 - 30 minutes or until bubbling.


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22 Responses to Tuscan Kale Gratin For Two

  1. Jayne December 7, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    I love kale! This sounds a great way to make it and something I wouldn’t have thought of doing, great recipe and inspiration!

    • Liz December 8, 2012 at 8:19 am #

      Thanks, Jayne, I think I will try this smaller-sized recipe with some other vegetables this winter.

  2. The Wimpy Vegetarian December 8, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    Kale is one of my favorite greens! I love this gratin, and am so glad you’re feeling better!! And your photo came out GREAT!!!!!

    • Liz December 8, 2012 at 9:57 am #

      I really am feeling better and it’s so fun to be back blogging again.

  3. CJ at Food Stories December 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    This looks so good … I may just have to give this one a go 🙂

    • Liz December 8, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

      Hope you try it –

  4. Gisele aka LA2LAChef December 9, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    OMG- this looks so good. I think it’ll be tested in my kitchen soon!

  5. Laura @ Family Spice December 10, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    Love this! I’m starting to branch out and eat more kale and chard. I’m glad to see that you are getting back on your feet, my friend.

    • Liz December 10, 2012 at 10:03 am #

      Me too – I even have Larry enjoying winter greens now.

  6. Lynda - TasteFood December 10, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Gorgeous. I am making this tonight!

    • Liz December 10, 2012 at 10:02 am #

      Thanks for the original inspiration!

  7. Beth (OMG! Yummy) December 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    What a lovely revision whether you are nursing an injury or just short on time or in our case, both!!!

    Glad you are back on your feet.

    • Liz December 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

      Thanks, Beth, looking forward to chatting with you after the holidays.

  8. Kim December 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    Looks delicious, Liz! I especially like that gratins can scale up easily. A week from Wednesday, I need to serve dinner to 150-200 people (long story). I’m looking for recipes I can make in bulk. I think kale gratin may work very easily, do you?

    If you have any other suggestions on what I can make to “feed a crowd,” I’m seriously scouring the web for suggestions.



    • Liz December 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

      Maybe roast several turkeys? Or a baked pasta casserole – as many as you need…Giant salad(s)…

  9. Cut `n Clean Greens December 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    Liz, this is a brilliant rendition of a kale gratin. Love that you scaled it for a duo. Perfect!

    –Your friendly Southern California farmers at Cut `n Clean Greens

  10. Oui, Chef December 12, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    I would eat just about anything in a gratin, but this kale would be among my favorites.

    • Liz December 12, 2012 at 7:43 am #

      You inspired me, Steve –

  11. sippitysup December 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    That Steve always pushing the kale! GREG

    • Liz December 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      He’s a terrific chef, that Steve…

  12. Ani {@afotogirl} March 16, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    Ohmy! Sounds delicious. Pinning for later. 🙂

    • Liz March 16, 2015 at 10:48 am #

      I kind of forgot about this dish – it’s pretty good.

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