Traditional recipes

Greens Gratin With All the Cheese

Greens Gratin With All the Cheese

Here's a fun party trick: Ask your friends to guess how many pounds of greens went into this supremely cheesy gratin inspired by a recipe from chef Renee Erickson. Three huge bunches of kale (and/or chard) get drowned in garlic- and rosemary-infused cream, then blanketed in cheddar cheese and panko and sent into a hot oven, where they sizzle and shrink. The cream turns into a rich sauce and the cheese gets bubbly-brown; the greens towards the top burnish (kale chips!) but those underneath stay silky-soft. So. Many. Textures! You'll want to use your largest oven-safe skillet for this recipe. But don't worry: If you don't have a skillet that's at least 10" (and preferably 12"), you can wilt down the greens in whatever skillet you do have, then transfer them an oven-safe baking dish and proceed with the recipe.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. First, prep the cream sauce: Peel and quarter 1 medium onion. Smash 4 garlic cloves and unpeel. Place onion and garlic in a medium saucepan. Pour in 2 cups heavy cream and stir in 1 rosemary sprig, 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and garlic are very soft, 15–20 minutes.

  2. While cream cooks, remove ribs from 4 medium bunches of Tuscan kale. Tear leaves into big pieces and wash. It’s okay if some water still clings to the leaves—this will help them wilt later. If you don’t have a bowl big enough to hold all of your greens, pile them on a baking sheet instead.

  3. When cream is ready, pluck out rosemary sprig and discard. Finely grate zest of ½ lemon into cream and stir in ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.

  4. Heat a large (as large as possible—12" is the goal) ovenproof skillet over medium. Add about one-quarter of greens, cover skillet (use a baking sheet if you don’t have a lid), and cook until wilted, 3–4 minutes. Scoot wilted greens to one side of pan. Add another quarter of greens, cover pan, and cook to wilt, 3–4 minutes. Remove from heat and place skillet on a rimmed baking sheet.

  5. Prep the toppings: Cut 6 oz. high-quality sharp cheddar cheese into ¼"-thick slices (you’ll have about 1½ cups). Place ½ cup panko to a small bowl and finely grate in zest of ½ lemon and remaining 1 garlic clove. Add 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

  6. Pile remaining greens on top of wilted kale, pressing down to compact as needed. This will look BANANAS, but the greens will shrink dramatically in the oven. Carefully pour cream mixture over. It’s okay if it drips a little—that’s why it’s on a baking sheet. Break cheese slices into large crumbles and evenly distribute over top. Sprinkle panko mixture over.

  7. Bake gratin until cheese is browned and bubbling and panko is toasted, 50–55 minutes.

  8. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Try not to eat the whole thing yourself!

Reviews SectionThis was a great recipe. Also a hit with 3 teens age 16,17,18! I might tweak this with a little less cheese and grate it to spread the flavor more evenly. Great sense of accomplishment for this divorced Dad who is trying to keep his kids centered around the family dinner table.AnonymousPoint Lookout, NY04/18/20This recipe is a really great framework to stuff a ton of greens into a comforting meal, or eating on its own with good crusty bread as I've mostly done. I agree with some other reviewers that I think two big tweaks to the assembly would make a better experience: shredding the cheddar instead of dropping it in chunks (it never really melts into the rest of the dish as-is, so every now and then I take a big bite of mostly solid cheddar) or using a meltier cheese in substitution; and in my opinion, tearing the leaves into slightly smaller pieces. The recipe just says 'large' which is subjective, and keep in mind that the leaves do shrink when cooked down but they are not bite-through friendly. (I wound up with big strips of leaves hanging out of my mouth at times.) The cream sauce -- I went ahead and doubled up the rosemary and added some thyme, and the flavor is out of this world. And the breadcrumb topping is killer! I cooked mine in a wide dutch oven and it was great.AnonymousHouston, TX01/15/20I cannot explain how much I loved this!! What better way to eat tons of greens than to smother them with cheese?! I loved the flavors of this dish as well as the simplicity of the recipe. Makes me feel fancy.Justine NunezElmhurst, IL01/05/20Delicious! Adding this to my veggie rotation. I used thyme since I didn't have rosemary on hand. I used 3 large bunches of Tuscan Kale. Really loved this for a lot of reasons but ultimately this surprised a few of the pickier eaters in my house. The kale ends up being a great texture at the end without going mushy from the long time in the oven. Crunch on top with the bit of lemon zest was brilliant. Will make this again!Unfortunately, I was not bowled over by this. I prepped the cream sauce ahead, sliced the "premium cheddar" as directed and assembled the dish as instructed. It was neither creamy or cheesy. The sharp cheddar didn't melt but stayed on top like slices of rubber. Why not shred the cheese to spread evenly? I even halfed the recipe by using 1 1/4 lbs of kale, but kept the cream recipe for 6 servings and still not creamy enough. Not sure what happened but this recipe was a fail...Wow. I was so impressed with myself making this dish. (but in reality even more impressed with the chef who developed this recipe for me. Thank you!) Simple but with so much flavor. Such a win.Such a good kale dish! It was one of the favorites at Christmas dinner and everyone asked for the recipe.This was amazing! It will definetly be in my rotation. I used Aleppo Pepper because that is what I had on hand. I also used heavy cream and half and half, because the cream was so expensive! Was amazing!NewCookinNYBrooklyn12/31/19This recipe is sooo good. I used a kettle-style potato chip and parmesan mixture for topping instead of panko because I was serving someone who is gluten free and it worked very well.AnonymousToronto, Canada12/27/19I can't begin to tell you how delicious this was. I've never had greens quite like this before. I used both kale and swiss chard and I also threw in fresh spinach because I happened to have it in the refrigerator. The best part of my Christmas dinner.Sbaker25Greensboro, North Carolina12/26/19

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