I recently received a call from the wild for kale recipes. Something about the Bountiful Baskets Co-op and too much of the bitter green in the box and kids in need of convincing. Enter creamed kale, and a recipe that can basically cream anything green, bitter and boycotted by the masses.
Funny Story #1: Since I don’t live in an area where Bountiful Baskets are available, I had to buy my kale the old-fashioned way – at the grocery store. When I asked for more than what was on the shelf the friendly helper laughed, then bundled every last leaf together so we only had to pay for “one bunch” instead of three. He must have thought I was confused about what I was buying. Little did he know what awaited this honking bundle o’ kale in my kitchen…
A little chop, chop, chop…
Followed by a five-ingredient cream sauce (butter, flour, milk, heavy cream and a small shallot)…
Then a quick sauté and a mix, mix, mix…
and Boom!, you’ve got kale that doesn’t taste too much like, well, kale. Now you could stop here and serve it up hot and creamy. But if you dare…
Mix in a little cream cheese and Parmesan…
Top with a healthy sprinkling of yes, more Parmesan, and broil…
…and you get creamed kale with a slightly crispy, salty and crowd-pleasing topping to boot.
Funny Story #2: Look who’s laughing now.
- Cream Sauce (Béchamel)
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 shallot, whole but peeled
- 2 pinches ground nutmeg
- Creamed Kale
- 1 large or 2 small bunches of kale, rinsed & leaves torn from stems
- Salt & black or white pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese, optional
- 1/2 cup of Parmesan, grated, optional
- Melt butter in a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Cook for one minute stirring constantly.
- Slowly whisk in milk and heavy cream. Add shallot and bring to a simmer, stirring quite often to prevent clumping and scorching. Simmer on low heat while you prepare the kale.
- Chop kale leaves into thin pieces with no regard for uniformity. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat add kale a little at a time, stirring occasionally until it begins to wilt. If necessary, add a small amount of water to produce steam.
- Once kale is soft, remove shallot and pour in cream sauce, folding with a spatula to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Optional: Mix in cream cheese and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Pour into an oven-safe dish, and top with remaining grated Parmesan.
- Broil on high until cheese is browned, about five minutes. Warning: Walking away from broiling cheese could result in severe burning… of the cheese.
For creamed spinach or other greens…
Always remove bitter green leaves from stems and chop into smaller, thinner pieces for easy stirring and serving. If using fresh baby spinach, this is not necessary. However, if using frozen spinach, thaw and/or cook according to package directions, then wring dry with a kitchen towel before combining with cream sauce.
Many bitter greens including kale and spinach contain oxalates, compounds that can cause health problems if eaten in large quantities (you’d have to eat A LOT to become sick, like pounds and pounds and pounds in one sitting). However, certain medical conditions such as those affecting the gall bladder and kidneys can be made worse by oxalates.
If you have concerns about these tricky compounds in your otherwise super healthy greens, blanch the greens first for one minute in briskly boiling water and wring dry with a towel before using in a recipe.
Craving More Kale?