Kale & Potato Gratin with Kale Pesto
Ok. I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t she make this recipe last month? Well, sort of…
Back in December, I made a rich, hearty, and very delicious gratin with chard, potatoes, and caramelized onions. Sure, this dish also has potatoes and winter greens. And sure, this dish is also a gratin. But while last month’s gratin was super rich and creamy, this gratin is light and bright. This month’s gratin is last month’s vivacious little sister, on a diet.
Well, not a huge diet—we’re not trying to deprive ourselves here, people. But it does cut out the heavy cream, eliminates the cheese, and keeps the olive oil to a minimum, all while remaining delectable and satisfying. The result? Something you can make and enjoy—without guilt—any day of the week. Sign me up.
The genesis of this dish was an ill-fated—i.e., disastrous—attempt at making Gourmet’s Potato & Kale Galette a few months back. What can I say? The whole process of cooking this thing just did not work out for me. The worst part was when I came to this step:
“Wearing oven mitts, carefully slide galette onto a baking sheet and invert skillet over it. Holding them together, invert galette, browned side up, back into skillet.”
You’re literally supposed to dump this very loose, flimsy “galette” onto a baking sheet, and then perfectly invert it back in the pan. Does this work? Not very well. Not for me, at least. At the same time, the final result—which, I promise you, wasn’t pretty—was missing something. It needed some acid. Some texture. A whole lot less butter. I remember thinking that it would be way more delectable if it took a little inspiration from this gratin. Add a little lemon for acid. Red pepper flakes for heat. Bread crumbs for texture. Plus, a unique pesto (instead of all that butter) to add moisture and round the whole thing out.
And that’s how this recipe was born. Oh is it ever a good one.
KALE & POTATO GRATIN WITH KALE PESTO
2 bunches of kale
2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
lemon (zest and juice)
3 medium garlic cloves
1 cup homemade breadcrumbs (approximate)*
1 tablespoon butter
red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Meanwhile, wash the kale, remove the tough stems and ribs, and coarsely chop. Reserve 1.5 cups of the chopped kale to make the pesto (see below). In a large nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat, add a couple slashes of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped kale to the pan, along with a couple pinches of salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a couple grinds of black pepper (all to taste). Toss everything together, and cook until the kale is just wilted, about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat, and set aside until you’re ready to assemble the gratin.
Make the kale pesto. In a food processor, combine 1 clove garlic, the reserved 1.5 cups of chopped kale, and some salt and pepper (to taste). Process until everything is coarsely chopped. Drizzle in a 1/4 cup of olive oil, and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Set aside.
Make your breadcrumbs (if you don’t already have homemade ones on hand). Remove the crusts from a few slices of day-old rustic bread; tear into pieces, toss in the food processor, and pulse until coarse crumbs are formed. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small pan. Remove from heat, and stir in the breadcrumbs, along with a pinch of salt, until the crumbs are lightly coated in the butter. Set aside.
Now you’re ready to assemble the gratin. Lightly oil your baking pan or gratin dish. Arrange 1/3 of the potato slices in a slightly overlapping layer, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In this order, top the potatoes with 2-3 tablespoons of the kale pesto (approximately 1/4 of the pesto), and then 1/2 of the sautéed kale. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of lemon zest over the kale. Arrange another 1/3 of the potatoes on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of the kale pesto, the last of the sautéed kale, and another teaspoon of lemon zest. Arrange the final layer of potatoes on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with 2-3 more tablespoons of kale pesto and, finally, the breadcrumbs. You should have several tablespoons of kale pesto leftover for garnish—stir approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into the leftover kale pesto, and set aside until the gratin is done baking.
Bake the gratin at 400F for 40-50 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Top each serving of gratin with a drizzle of the kale pesto.
* For my rant on why you really should make your own breadcrumbs, check out the very end of this post.