Wild Rice Kale Gratin

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Sorry for the posting delay. The end of last week was a bit busy. Here’s that promised side dish I’ve been raving about for the last week or so:

As mentioned, I made this for a dinner that I hosted for a few of my high school friends. I am a big fan of kale–especially in the winter. It’s so crunchy and good for you; I can almost feel my arteries clearing up while I eat it. And then I go do things like add it to a gratin and counteract all that artery-clearing with some cheese. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

This recipe comes from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which I wrote about last week. It’s a great dish for a crowd; one recipe fed eight of us with plenty of leftover for my lunches (and dinner) over the weekend. Plus the bites of kale and caramelized onion just go so well with the nutty wild rice. Plus, who can resist a dish with a cheesy-panko topping?

So visualize healthy thoughts while you eat this. I’m sure that it counteracts the cheese? Conversely, maybe all the kale intake will inspire you to go to the gym. In any case, you only live once. Might as well eat happy.

Wild Rice Kale Gratin
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. The original recipe calls for a two-quart casserole. I haven’t a clue what size my baking dish is. It’s one of those 12-inch Smarta things from IKEA (I’m a student, ok? I’ll get real casseroles when I’m a real person). I had some leftover and wound up putting it into a small, oven-safe bowl–which is the orange dish pictured in this post. But I’m sure a two-quart dish would work great.

Ingredients:

  • 1 2/3 cups wild rice–I used a wild rice, brown basmati blend that was already open
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter–2 cold and 1 melted
  • 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 4 cups stemmed kale leaves, cut into ribbons
  • 1½ cups grated Swiss cheese
  • ½ cup grated pecorino
  • ¾ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup Panko

Directions:

  • First, cook your wild rice according to the package instructions. It should yield about 5 cups.
  • Next, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Use 1 tablespoon of cold butter to grease the casserole dish.
  • Now it’s time to caramelize some onions: place a large pan over medium-low heat. Melt the remaining tablespoon of cold butter along with the olive oil. When the butter has melted, add the onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cook for ten to fifteen minutes until the onions have softened and just started to brown. At this point, deglaze your pan. Add half of the wine and scrape up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan.

Continue cooking the onions until the wine has evaporated and they are tender, sweet, and a nice caramel color. This should take another fifteen minutes. You may need to deglaze the pan once more with the remaining wine to scrape up the fond/prevent burning. I personally always deglaze at the end because I think wine makes everything taste better. Plus, in this recipe, a little bit of wine will help you with the next step, which is….

  • …to add the kale ribbons. Cook for five more minutes, until slightly wilted. Remove the onion-kale mixture from heat.

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  • In a large bowl, stir together the onion-kale mixture, the cooked wild rice, and 1 cup of swiss cheese. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
  • Transfer to your casserole dish. Pour the broth over the wild rice mixture. Top with the remaining Swiss cheese.
  • Then, prepare your topping: in a bowl, combine the melted butter, Panko, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Add the pecorino and stir once more. Use to top your gratin.

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  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a little bubbly and the topping begins to brown.

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Serves 8-12.

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