If you have a vegetable box, you probably receive quite a lot kale during the winter months. Last week, it was a vivid purple. But, no matter how attractive in appearance, kale can have a harsh, chewy consistency. Preparing it as a gratin can soften it, and make it palatable even to those who are wary of brassicas. Serves 4.
Bagful of kale
About 50g butter
About 350ml milk
100g grated Cheddar, Gruyere, or some such
Scraping of nutmeg
2dstsp grated Parmesan
Warm a gratin dish in a gas mark 5/190C oven.
Strip the kale from the stalks, and wash it. Pour water a couple of cms deep into a saucepan, bring it to the boil, shove in the kale, and cook it, covered, for about five minutes, or until wilted. Drain, and squeeze out as much water as you can.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the flour, and cook very gently for a minute or so. (Use more butter if this roux is too thick.) Turn up the heat slightly, and pour in the milk a few splashes at a time, incorporating each addition before pouring in more. Stop when you have a thick but pourable sauce, and let it bubble, while you stir, for a minute or so. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Stir in the Cheddar or Gruyere. Mix the sauce and the kale. (I found that there was a lot of kale in my bag, so I made the mixture a little more liquid by adding some cream from the fridge.)
Tip into the gratin dish, sprinkle over the Parmesan, and bake for 20 minutes. If you'd like a browner top, finish it under the grill.