CSA: Week 14, the return of greens

-1 bunch arugula (still very ratty)
-1 bag mixed greens
-1 large kohlrabi
-1/2 lb. edamame
-3 Carmen peppers (an heirloom bell variety)
-Handful dodgy cherry tomatoes
-2 asian pears
-1 bunch dill
-3 onions

I had to play catch-up, and I ended up mostly cooking with the previous week’s produce while doing my best to preserve this week’s. I had saved a recipe for Potato-Kale gratin from The Kitchn, and since I had several bags of potatoes from previous weeks, plus a bunch of kale that needed to be used up and some rapidly aging leeks in the crisper (eek!), I used that recipe as a starting point and improvised a variation.

Kale and Potato Gratin
Loosely adapted from The Kitchn
1 pound thin-skinned boiling potatoes such as red potatoes
1 bunch kale
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (my cloves were large; I used about 2 tablespoons!)
2 normal or 4 small leeks, cleaned
2 italian sausages
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoons pepper
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Get a pot of water boiling with enough water to cover the potatoes, and prepare an ice bath.
Slice the potatoes 1/4″-thick. Remove and discard the spines from the kale then chop the remaining leaves in roughly 1/2″-thick ribbons. Cut the leeks in half (if you didn’t already when you were cleaning them) and then into thin half moons.

When the water is boiling, add a dash of salt and drop in the potatoes, cooking for about 2-3 minutes, until tender, but not cooked through. Drain and plunge into the ice bath. Drain again and dump onto a dish towel and blot.

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the kale and rub the olive oil mixture into the leaves–they will sort of crumple up and absorb the oil.

Sauté the leeks in olive oil until they are starting to soften, then add in the sausage, crumbling it. Cook until the sausage is about 95% done.

Alternate layers of the potatoes, kale, and sausage mixture, along with sprinkles of bread crumbs and Parmesan in a 9″x12″ rectangular casserole or glass or ceramic baking dish (I used an 11×7 oval casserole). Top with more of the parm/bread crumbs.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes, until top is crispy. I served it with slices of french bread.

This was almost a success, but not quite there. I gimped out and used grated parm/romano from Trader Joe’s and something about it had a really weird taste. Weird enough that I returned the cheese. I got a faint overtone of both goat cheese and bananas from the finished dish, but Ben thinks I’m totally nuts, so take that with a grain of salt. Sometimes kale does give me that “hint of banana” thing… Who knows. Anyway, I love the idea of this, and I want to try it again, maybe adding in a little more liquid or cooking the potatoes pretty much all the way instead of part way. The leek/sausage/kale combo is always nice. Anyway, I blame the weird TJ’s cheese and have learned my lesson and will go back to grating my own.

It did reheat extremely well–Ben enjoyed his so much that he emailed asking for the recipe, because one of his coworkers was jealous. Here it is, finally: This one’s for you, Alex!

3 thoughts on “CSA: Week 14, the return of greens”

  1. I’ve not yet mastered the gratin…I made one for a dinner party that was undercooked—the idea of boiling the potatoes first sounds smart…

  2. Oh Maggie, definitely try parboiling the potatoes. I’ve encountered a few undercooked gratins in my day and it seems like no matter how long they are left in the oven they never quite get there. The only time I’ve made one with raw potatoes it was Dauphinoise, and they were sliced SO thin and then added to the boiling milk before going in the oven…. My gratin theory is that especially if you’re not using a ton of liquid (and this recipe has no liquid at all!) any time the potatoes are thicker than paper-thin you need to pre-cook them.

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