I can blame this recipe on Trader Joe’s. Blane might not be the right word.
My hubby and I stopped in there one evening with the new Fearless Flyer to pick up a few intriguing items. TJ’s is always a fun grocery stop and they really do a great job featuring seasonal items. Such a good job that, sometimes, there’s none left at the end of the day. Like this time.
There was one dish I was really wanting to try! This gratin with butternut squash and spinach sounded delicious! But the shelf was empty! Sad me.
Then as we wandered around, I picked up the bag of chopped kale I wanted … I spotted Pie Pumpkins and grabbbed one of those … do you see where this is going?
So in my oven, as I am typing this, is a gratin of honey-spice roasted pumpkin layered with garlicky bacony chopped kale, all smothered with cream sauce and parmesan.
It had better be good!
The extra honey-roasted pumpkin is going to be fantastic on my oatmeal, with its cinnamon/nutmeg/honey deliciousness.
… and now it is out of the oven and smelling wonderful …
… and now I am stuffing my face! *** WIN! ***
TJ’s, don’t worry about me. I got that gratin covered, and it’s even healthier with kale and probably less fat, although I refuse to do the math in case I disappoint myself ;)
Please, make this for yourself one day when the weather is cold, and you want something filling and creamy and comforting.
(And that still has a few health benefits!)
Roasted Pumpkin and Kale Gratin
1 pie pumpkin or butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and sliced into 1/8″ thick slices 3″ – 4″ long (4-6 cups)
1/4 c. honey
2 Tbsp. oil
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
generous 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
freshly ground pepper
olive oil for the pan: 1-2 tsp, plus some butter if you want to splurge
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp. Hormel bacon crumbles or chopped, lightly cooked, bacon
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
4 cups (packed) chopped Lacinato kale (also known as Tuscan kale or dinosaur kale)
which equaled half the 10 oz. TJ’s bag of Chopped Tuscan Kale, chopped a little finer
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 c. half-and-half
1/4 c. nonfat evaporated milk (condensed, but not sweetened) or other milk
optional: 1/4 c. crumbled goat cheese
about 1/3 c. finely grated Parmesan or Romano
Prepare a 10″ x 15″ x 1″ jelly roll pan with non-stick foil coming up the sides.
Place pumpkin slices into pan and pepper well. Pour honey mixture over and toss to combine. Spread pumpkin evenly over pan; it should be a couple layers thick in most places.
Bake at 375F for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes twice, then watch carefully and stir after 5 minutes. Roast until some color develops and any liquid is thick and syrupy. Set aside; keep pan tipped to drain out some remaining oil if desired.
While pumpkin is in the oven, saute onion and bacon in frying pan with the oil until onion softens and bacon becomes crisper. Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Add kale and combine for 2 minutes. Add salt, then pour in 1-2 Tbsp. water and cover to steam kale for 3-5 minutes. Remove cover and let liquid evaporate. Remove from pan and set aside.
In same pan over medium-low heat, melt butter then add flour and stir until it smells toasty. Slowly add evaporated milk in small pours, stirring constantly to combine. Continue adding milk then half and half to make thin cream sauce. (Use your immersion blender if you get distracted by a soccer game on TV and get lumps. Just sayin’.)
In a 2 quart casserole, layer half the kale and then maybe…
Optional step I forgot to do, although it was my original plan: crumble goat cheese over the bottom kale layer (maybe both layers!)
Cover with a single crowded layer of pumpkin; repeat layers. Pour sauce evenly over all, then sprinkle with parmesan.
Bake at 400F for 20 minutes loosely covered; remove cover and bake another 5-15 minutes until top and edges are golden brown.
Let stand 5 minutes. Makes 4-6 moderate-sized servings.
I love this dish — the sweetened roasted pumpkin really contrasts with the garlicky salty kale, and the creamy sauce brings it all together. It still has a lot of texture from the kale, and a nice toasty note from the browned parmesan on top.
My hubby has some reservations. He’s not that into kale, but cooked spinach is never an option so at least I knew he’d eat this. He’d also prefer the butternut squash because pumpkin still manages to be a bit stringier. But I love my punkins :) and I love my kale OR spinach!
I will probably make myself some individual servings of this for lunches, and tweak them all different kinds of ways. Fun in the kitchen!