I have a strong affinity for green food. Hand me a turkey and cheese panini, and I’m going to tuck in some arugula. A white bean and sausage soup? I’m stirring in spinach. A slice of cheese pizza? There better be a salad on the side.
Based on my own experience, I know that getting green food past my children, and occasionally my husband, can require covert actions. With this dish, I tuck the kale under the cozy blanket of Gruyere cheese and creamy potatoes. Before my children dish up, I see them eye the kale, even hesitate a bit, but when they ask, “What is this?” I simply reply, “Oh, it’s those cheesy potatoes. The ones I always serve with sliced ham. You love ‘em.” And with that, they scoop it up and eat it by the forkful.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is eating healthier, and consuming more leafy green vegetables, but you’re unsure how to get it past other family members, don’t be afraid to hide it under and behind more approachable foods.
I tend to serve these potatoes alongside thick slices of ham that I picked up in my deli section. Sometimes I go for the double green, serving steamed broccoli with it. The meal is wholly satisfying on a rainy winter’s evening and transports me to a little hamlet in England, beneath a plaid wool blanket, reading Jane Eyre … even though I’m at home watching “Grimm.”
Serves 8 | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 45 minutes
|2 lbs fingerling potatoes or other small, waxy potatoes, cleaned and cut into approx. ¾-inch cubes||¼ cup all-purpose flour|
|2 cups chopped Lacinato kale||½ teaspoon salt|
|1 cup + ½ cup grated, aged Gruyere cheese, divided||A couple pinches of freshly ground black pepper|
2 cups milk
|1 teaspoon of nutmeg|
|2 tablespoons butter||¼ cup breadcrumbs|
Put prepared potatoes in a large pot. Sprinkle in a pinch or two of salt. Cover potatoes with cold water by an inch or so. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and boil uncovered for about 10-15 minutes, or until they can be easily pricked with a fork. Once done, drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.
While potatoes are cooking, prep your kale. Remove the tough middle ribs and discard. Chop the remaining leaves. Grate your cheese. Heat milk by microwaving one minute at a time. Stir after each heating and continue to heat until hot, but not boiling. Repeat about 2-3 times.
In a saucepan, melt your butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in your flour and stir 1-2 minutes until a paste forms. Slowly add your warmed milk, whisking continuously. Continue to whisk the milk, butter and flour together until thickened and lumps have disappeared, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 1 cup of cheese.
Combine your potatoes and kale in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour milk and cheese sauce over the potatoes and kale. Gently stir the mixture to coat evenly. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup of cheese and breadcrumbs over the top. Bake at 350˚F for 40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Enjoy.
Photos by Carrie Minns.