Fall is here. Pool season seems to be over and the only last hope is cool nights with bourbon, chili and good cashmere. This year the summer season caught up to me. I’m left with few regrets – just longing for a couple more warm nights in the garden with rose and a fired up grill. But so it goes. It goes to gratin – potatoes, cauliflower broccoli, squash, throw in some kale this year to make yourself feel better. He is a good starter recipe for your fall meal. It pairs well with a simple roasted pork loin or quick seared piece of red meat.
Cauliflower & Kale Gratin
1-1/2 to 2 pounds curly or *Tuscan kale (about 3 bunches)
2 small heads or one large head of cauliflower (3-4 lbs)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk*
1 cup half & half *
1 3/4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (about 3 firm slices of whole wheat* or white sandwich bread)
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg*
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup Parmesan
Strip kale leaves from stems and center ribs (discard stems and ribs). Tear or cut leaves into 2-3 inch pieces.
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 the 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. NOTE: If using Tuscan kale do not squeeze too hard. Press on dishtowel or paper towels to remove moisture.
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 half & half and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer béchamel sauce, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes, then stir in 1 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 cup (of the 3/4 cups) of grated Parmigiano cheese. Pour sauce over kale and cauliflower.
Toss together bread crumbs, oil, rest of the 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.