We’re in the thick of winter and all I can think about is comfort food. I need a filling meal morning, noon, and night….as well as forty billion snacks a day. Yet no matter what I eat, I’m still hungry from the minute I wake up to the time I close my eyes to fall asleep. It’s especially weird since the rest of the world is in diet mode. Due to my insatiable hunger these days, I’ve been trying to give a healthy twist to everything I cook. One of my favorite new recipes is a delicious au gratin white beans and kale dish that I came up with while stranded inside due to all that Polar Vortex craziness (wtf was up with that weather anyway?!). I took everyone’s favorite superfood and covered it in cheese. This recipe is reminiscent to a pasta-free mac n’ cheese mixed with kale. The beans provide a great protein packed substitute for carb-filled elbow pasta.
Each bite sticks to your ribs and makes you feel so warm and cozy. It’s creamy and kind of tastes a little meaty due to the beans. But it’s not just the beans that provide substance to this recipe, the kale also give the dish a great body. There are also little bits of garlic and onion scattered throughout all the cheesy goodness. My recommendation is to sprinkle in a big pinch of pepper for a spicy zest…it’s totally worth it.
Since this casserole finishes baking under the broiler, the cheese on top gets a delicate crispness that’s absolutely awesome. The crispy top contrasts perfectly against the creamy filling. The beans are slightly meaty, whereas the kale maintains a slight chew, even after it’s wilted. So good. It’s always great to have a mix of textures in every bite.
Ah kale, you sexy little green monster. Enjoy! :)
**Makes 6-8 servings**
1/2 onion (diced)
1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
16 oz kale
1 can small white beans (15.5 oz)
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese (shredded)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
Salt/pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a warm large skillet over medium heat, add the oil, garlic, and onion with a pinch of salt/pepper. Cook until translucent and lightly brown, about 5 minutes.
Cut the woody stems off of the kale. Chop the leaves into bite sized pieces. Add the leaves into the skillet. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt/pepper. Put a cover on the skillet and lower heat to medium-low. Allow the kale to steam for 3-5 minutes.
Drain and rinse the white beans. Add beans to the skillet. Gently stir so the beans/kale are mixed together.
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Whisk in the flour. Cook for about a minute and then whisk in the milk. When the milk is warm, add the cheese. Stir until smooth. Turn off heat and pour over the beans/kale. Stir to combine.
Scoop everything into a square casserole dish. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese, pepper, and drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil (optional).
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly.
Switch the oven to broil, on high. Broil for 5-8 minutes or until golden.
Cool slightly. Serve and enjoy!