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Beet and Kale Gratin

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If you think you don't like beets, give these a try

I admit I was late to the beet party. Growing up, I only knew canned beets, which are a big yuck. On the occasion when I was served roasted beets at a dinner party or at a restaurant, I thought they were OK, and tasted a bit like dirt. I do like a good beet bortsch. Recently, I have begun to get the hang of beets, even throwing them in a smoothy. I am finally appreciating their somewhat earth-like flavor. This recipe, however, knocks beets out of the ballpark.

New York Times Recipe

This recipe is a slight variation on a July, 2010 New York Times recipe by Martha Rose Shulman, a renowned cookbook writer and NY Times columnist whose recipes are designed to achieve "health and pleasure." I love that philosophy! Check out her latest cookbook, The Very Best of Recipes for Health. I discovered this recipe because I was trying to figure out what to do with the luscious beet tops that came in my share box from ZucciniXpress, my CSA. Google led me to Martha and this exceptional recipe.

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Beets, beet tops and kale, a nutritional trifecta

This recipe combination zeros in on Martha's "health and pleasure" focus. Nutritionally, you get more out of the beets when you also eat the tops. The root is rich in Vitamin C, folate, manganese, potassium and betaine. Beet tops, bring additional nutrients to the table in the form of Vitamins, A, C & K, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium and more. When you add kale, you are not only eating your colors, but celebrating them.

A slightly more hedonistic gratin

I admit, I add a couple ingredients that Martha didn't include in her recipe. On the virtuous side, I added in the kale. On the less virtuous side, I swapped out Martha's low-fat milk and used cream. I guess I just like cream in a gratin. See my methods post on making potato gratin to see why. And finally, I hit the Gruyère a little harder, and add a sprinkling of grated parmigiano reggiano to create a tasty gratin top. You can always back the recipe down a bit if you have the will power.

Tips

  • This is the recipe to break out your apron for. Beets stain, but I have to admit, the stain is beautiful!
  • Consider roasting the beets a day ahead. Once the beets are roasted, putting the gratin together is pretty simple.
  • The simplest way to remove the spines from beet tops and kale is to use kitchen sheers.
  • Serve this dish in the summer when beets are at their prime, or at Christmas for its gorgeous red, green and gold colors.
  • This recipe works well in a cazuela, but you can also cook it in a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish.
  • There are two types of steamers I recommend. One is an inexpensive insert steamer that can be added to a variety of size pots. The second is a steamer pot, with a removable basket, that I find very handy for many uses, particularly steaming vegetables and cooking pasta.
  • This is a rich dish. I serve it as a main course with a light salad on the side, for a satisfying vegetarian or  meatless monday combination. This gratin could be served as an accompaniment to meat, but you would need to cut down the serving size substantially.

Beet and kale gratin

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 6 -8 servings

If you think you don't like beets, think again. This gorgeous beet and kale gratin recipe will convert you. What a pleasurable way to eat your colors!

Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds mixed red and yellow beets, including beet tops
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cream, divided
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped
  • 3 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 3 T grated parmigiano reggiano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Trim the beet tops off about 1/4" from the beet. Fill a sink full of water and put leaves in sink to rinse. Shake off water and cut out the spines. Set aside.
  2. Place beets in a roasting pan with 1/4" water of hot water. Cover tightly with a lid or tin foil. Roast until a sharp knife easily pierces the beets. The amount of time will depend on the size of your beets, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Remove the beets from the roasting pan and let them cool. Peel the skins off with your fingers, or use a small pairing knife to scrape off any skin that is tough to get off. Slice across the grain into 1/8" circles. Set aside. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees.
  3. While beets are roasting return to the beet tops. Using a vegetable steamer, put a couple inches of water in the bottom of a big pot. Bring to a boil and insert the steamer basket. Add the beet leaves and steam until wilted, for 1-2 minutes. Remove the beet tops from the steamer and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Shake off excess water and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop into 1" pieces and set aside.
  4. While the beet tops are steaming, rinse and remove the spines from the kale. Bring the steamer pot back to a boil and insert the steamer basket for the kale. Steam for about 5 minutes, until tender. Remove the kale from the steamer and plunge into bowl of ice water. Shake off excess water and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop into 1" pieces and set aside.
  5. Put olive oil in a skillet and heat. Add beet tops, kale and garlic to the hot pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, fluff with a fork and set aside.
  6. Whisk eggs together in a bowl large enough to hold all the vegetables. Add 3/4 cup cream and mix, reserving 1/4 cup of cream. Add sautéed beet top and kale, beet slices, chives and Gruyere cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Mix to gently to combine.
  7. Lightly oil a 12" cazuela or 13 x 9 x 2" baking dish. Spread the beet and greens mixture into the pan, spread mixture so the baking dish is evenly covered. Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup of cream over the top of the mixture and sprinkle the grated parmigiano reggiano over the top. Bake for 30 minutes. Let gratin sit for 10 minutes before serving.

 

THIS SERVES WELL WITH

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6 COMMENTS

Comments

  1. OMG! I made the beet and kale gratin with the wine poached salmon last night for friends, it was awesome! I looked like I could cook, truly amazing. Thank you Kim!

    1. Kim says:

      You can cook Barbara! Thank you for the great review. I am glad you enjoyed the recipes. Isn’t the beet and kale gratin amazing!

  2. Muffer Carroll says:

    This was wonderful! Most beautiful dish and very delicious ! I wanted to see if even I could do it before bringing to a thanksgiving feast! Thank you!

    1. Kim says:

      So glad you enjoyed it Muffer!

  3. Amanda Hicks says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe.
    I made this as a side to a chilean salmon that was seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and dill with a mint garnish. The richness of the gratin coupled with the clean taste of the salmon was spot on.
    I did take a liberty or two in the preparation of the gratin. I used goat milk instead of cow and topped it with a beatiful shredded goat cheese in stead of the parmigiano. I also, added purple onion in when sauteeing the greens.
    One question, do you happen to have nutrion information for this dish?

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Amanda —

      I love your goat milk variation, particularly for anyone who is allergic to cow’s milk. As to your question about nutritional information, I do not calculate the traditional nutritional information. What I do know about this recipe is the kale and beets provide a lot of good nutritional stuff and not much in the way of calories. The calories come from the eggs, cream and cheese. If you want to lighten up the calories swap cream for milk (or goat’s milk) and use less cheese and eat a moderate portion. I personally do not pay a whole lot of attention to calories. Instead, I focus on loading up on vegetables and fruit as the main portion of the meal and watch portions.

      Enjoy!

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