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Cauliflower and Kale Au Gratin

Makes8 servings
  • Active time: 45 min
    Total time: 1 1/2 hr
Kale and cauliflower get cozy in this gratin. The crisp, cheesy breadcrumbs and silky béchamel sauce are the perfect bedfellows for these vegetables.
Published in Gourmet Live 11.10.10

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 pounds curly kale (about 3 bunches)
  • 2 small heads cauliflower (about 4 pounds total)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from firm white sandwich bread; about 3 slices)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

EQUIPMENT:

  • a 3- to 3 1/2 -quart flameproof shallow baking dish (not glass)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Tear kale leaves from stems and center ribs, then discard stems and ribs.
  • Cut and discard greens and core from cauliflower, then cut cauliflower into 1 1/2-inch florets.
  • Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Butter baking dish.
  • Cook kale in a pasta pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, in 2 batches until almost tender, about 3 to 5 minutes per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking, then transfer with tongs to a colander to drain. Gently squeeze excess water from kale by handfuls and transfer to baking dish.
  • Cook florets in 1 batch in pot until crisp-tender, about 3 to 6 minutes, then transfer with slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking and drain well in colander. Nestle cauliflower in kale.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in lower third.
  • Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking frequently, 3 minutes. Whisk in milk and cream and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer béchamel sauce, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes, then stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour sauce over kale and cauliflower.
  • Toss together bread crumbs, oil, cheese, and 1/8 tsp each salt and pepper, then sprinkle evenly over mixture and bake gratin in oven until sauce is bubbling and crumbs are golden, 40 to 45 minutes.
  • If you wish the crumbs to be more golden, broil gratin under a preheated broiler, about 6 inches from heat, watching carefully, 1 to 2 minutes.

COOKS’ NOTES:

  • Crumb mixture can be made 2 days ahead and chilled in an airtight container.
  • Kale and cauliflower in sauce can be assembled 1 day ahead without crumb topping and chilled, covered.
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