Even though both spinach and kale (and you could actually add or substitute frozen turnip greens in this recipe also) are plentiful fresh this time of year – winter greens, after all – we are using frozen today because first, freezing tenderizes kale and second, you need an awful lot of fresh greens to get to the equivalent of two pounds of frozen chopped greens. Besides, when you’re making a dish this healthy – nothing beats winter greens for iron, fiber, vitamins, etc. – it’s not difficult to justify buying something frozen even when it’s in season. Pound for pound, I’ll wager the cost is going to be about the same, especially when you factor in cooking and, of course, waste – how many of us actually use kale ribs after we remove them? Another plus: The dish will go together lickety split when using a couple of bags of frozen greens, so stop beating yourself up. And feel better by making your own breadcrumbs – we may love our panko, but in this dish you want larger crumbs for texture and crunch.
1 large bag (16 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 large bag (16 oz) frozen chopped kale, thawed
1 T unsalted butter
½ t ground nutmeg
1/4 t hot pepper flakes (optional)
2 T olive oil
1 C fresh breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 C heavy cream
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 C freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Heat the oven to 400°F. Have ready a large gratin dish or casserole dish (any shape is fine as long as it’s shallow). Drain thawed greens in a large strainer, pressing down to expel as much moisture as possible, then squeeze them in paper towel or dishtowel to extract more moisture; heat butter in a large saucepan and add greens; cover and saute gently about 3 minutes until heated. Add nutmeg and pepper flakes if using and toss to mix well; reserve. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and breadcrumbs, 1/4 t salt and a few grinds of pepper.
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.
Put warmed greens in the gratin dish, spreading them out; sprinkle with cheese; pour over reduced cream and top with 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.