Lacinato Kale Gratin

Updated 10.25.2020.

All right; listen up. This is a serious recipe my friends. It’s so special it’s a dish you want to eat all by yourself or share only with the ones you love the most. That’s right. It’s that GD special. To start with, this side dish is freaking expensive to make. I had to go to a specialty grocery store to find the kale. (Thanks Gelson’s.) It cost me no less than $20 for the three key ingredients. You see why I’m telling you to hoard it for yourself or share ONLY with the ones you REALLY love??? See how special this dish is?

But also this lovely gratin has the most delicate taste of any cream or gratin dish I’ve ever tasted. I’m guessing this is, in part, due to the fact that you don’t first cook the kale down until it’s wilted. You let the kale wilt and cook on its own in the oven. When you take it out of the oven it doesn’t look that special. It looks kind of ugly, in fact. The cheese is crusted on top and the kale looks kinda brownish.

But then when you dig in, you uncover the tender green kale drowning in cream. (Am I the only person in the universe who gets really excited about any recipe that involves heavy whipping cream??) And when you taste the drenched kale it melts into your mouth contrasting against the crispness of the outer edges of the kale and the crusted cheese. The only thing I think could improve this dish would be more cheese in the middle of the dish. Another layer (or two!) maybe. I loved this dish sooooo much I want to make every vegetable dish into heavy cream gratin heaven. Spinach anyone?

Bon appetit!


  • medium (or 2 large) bunches lacinato kale, ribs removed, torn into roughly 3-inch pieces
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 c. heavy cream
  • ½ (ish) pound sharp cheddar or Gruyère cheese (or both! I used a combo)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Pile the kale in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Your kale should practically be spilling out and over the dish. Don’t worry, it will settle as it bakes. Season the kale with the nutmeg and salt and pepper (to taste), then carefully drizzle the cream over it. Top with cheese slices.
  3. Place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any cream that drips out as the gratin cooks. Bake at least an hour, possibly more; you want the cream to thicken and the cheese to brown. The outer shell of kale will crisp up, like kale chips. I took mine out of the oven after about an hour and five or 10 minutes.
  4. Let the gratin cool for a few minutes, then serve.

Recipe rating:  1/2

Recipe barely adapted from Food 52.


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