Kale, mushroom and cheddar casserole (Kate Lawson)
Kale is still riding the wave of popularity and to my mind, it’s not going to go away anytime soon. Not when I use this nutritional champion to make a wonderful salad or super snack or toss it with some pasta for a hearty meal.
Even my husband, who actually grows tired of asparagus has not yet asked me to throw in the kale towel and that’s my incentive for finding new ways to enjoy this sturdy green.
The key in cooking with kale is to find the dark Tuscan (also called lacinato, dinosaur or black kale) with long, narrow, almost black leaves. Available mostly in the colder months, it’s one of the few reasons I know of to welcome winter. Then it’s crucial to remove the tough center rib. This is a chore I don’t mind doing as I turn the leaf over so that the rib is prominent, fold the leaf in half and slice along the center removing the rib with one cut. It’s also important to thinly slice the kale so that it cooks faster and more tender.
Then you’re ready to add it to the soup pot for one of my favorites — ribollata — (that’s “reboiled” in Italian but doesn’t begin to describe how ethereal is this thick, one-bowl meal.
Kale is also the star of this soul-satisfying casserole when teamed with mushrooms, crusty bread and cheddar. Serve this for a winter brunch, a weeknight supper or Sunday meal. You can prep the night before and enjoy it on your day of rest.
Kale Mushroom Cheddar Casserole
Recipe from “Homemade With Love” by Jennifer Perillo
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 bunch (7 ounces) Tuscan kale (also called lacinto or dinosaur kale) ribs removed & thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
5-6 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
½ loaf ciabatta or challah bread, cut into 1⁄8-inch thick slices
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups milk
6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside. Heat 2 teaspoon of the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the kale and cook stirring occasionally, until slightly wilted, 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and onion to the skillet and the remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat up to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms and onions are tender and lightly golden, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and milk together until well mixed. Cover bottom of baking dish with 1⁄3 of bread slices, spread half the kale mixture over the bread layer and sprinkle 1⁄3 of the cheese on top. Repeat process with one more layer, reserve remaining 1⁄3 of the cheese.
Pour egg mixture over the casserole, pressing down gently on the layers with a rubber spatula so that the liquid is absorbed. Finish by sprinkling top with remaining cheese. Let casserole sit for 15 minutes to allow liquid to further absorb or cover tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight. Bake, covered with foil for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for additional 25-30 minutes until cheese is gold and bubbly. Let casserole sit for 5 minutes before cutting into portions. Serves 6.
Per serving: 312 calories; 17 g fat (8 g saturated fat; 49 percent calories from fat); 23 g carbohydrates; 157 mg cholesterol; 456 mg sodium; 16 g protein; 1 g fiber.