Friends of my family recently started a small organic farm. Yay! But, due to my hometown’s draconian zoning laws and crotchety neighbors with an abundance of free time, they have so far been unable to sell what the grow. Boo. The minor upside is that my parents are now swimming in excellent free greens – every time I see them, I depart with five pounds of just-picked kale, spinach, arugula and what have you. As I can only eat raw kale salads so many times a week, this recipe is perfect for making use of the rest. The greens take on a featherweight, creamy texture, despite a fairly modest amount of fat and dairy. It also reheats well.
This recipe is adapted from the recipe "Best Baked Spinach" by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Julia Child. —MeghanVK
Preheat the oven to 375.
Remove the stems and inner ribs from the greens and wash. Toss the greens in a pot with the water still clinging to them and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, about 5 or 6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Chop the greens and then take wee handfuls of them, squeezing tightly to extract as much liquid as humanly possible.
In the same pot you used to steam, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the greens. Cook until they begin to stick to the pan, about 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat, sprinkle with flour, and stir for two minutes more. Now treat the greens like risotto: add the liquid, a little at a time, stirring after every addition until the liquid is absorbed. The greens should begin to take on a soft, almost creamy texture. Stir in the butter and ½ cup of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the mixture into a one-quart baking dish, or individual gratin dishes. Top with the remaining cheese and bread crumbs. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden.