Kale can contain an arsenal of antioxidants and when combined with nutritious, flavorful cheeses, you’ve got an exciting and healthful meal.
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 ounces Bellwether Farms San Andreas aged sheep cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
1 Tablespoon finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (preferably chives and flat-leaf parsley)
1 ½ cups milk
8 (or 1 package) Bellwether Farms Crescenza, cubed
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
4 ounces pancetta, diced (or bacon)
3 Tablespoons Dry Sherry
4 lbs. Dino or Lacinato kale, leaves and stems separated and both cut into 1-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 400.
Make the Topping:
Melt 2 tablespoons butter and toss in a bowl with bread crumbs, San Andreas cheese, herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
Make the Cheese Sauce:
Warm milk in a small saucepan or microwave. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour. Cook the roux, whisking 1 minute, then whisk in milk and boil to thickened, about 1 minute. Add cubed Crescenza until melted and smooth. Season sauce with salt and pepper and keep on low heat until ready to mix with kale.
Cook the Greens:
In a heavy pot cook pancetta until nice and crispy. Add the garlic, onion, chili flakes, sherry and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add Kale, ¼ cup of water and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a colander to drain well and press out liquid with back of a large spoon. Toss vegetables with cheese sauce and transfer to a buttered 12-inch oval gratin or 2-quart shallow baking dish, spreading evenly. It may seem like too much liquid, but the kale will absorb most of the sauce. Taste and season for salt and pepper. Top vegetables with bread crumbs and bake in middle of oven until bubbling and topping is golden, about 20 minutes.