06 December 2012

Grateful Gratin

It's gratitude season, folks. I am grateful for greens and the wonderful people who grow them, especially the farmers at the farmers market.

Methinks the work fridge is set a tad low. I brought these greens home for Thanksgiving (negating my running instead of driving to the Alexandria farmers market, heck, cancelling out half the reason for shopping somewhat local). I stored them in the office fridge since I was leaving for home after work. My greens froze during the day; as they were pre-cooked, in a way, I cooked them further by incorporating them into this vegan, gluten-free gratin. Greens will speed your post-Thanksgiving recovery, filling you up with phytonutrients and fibre, without weighing you down. This warm dish would complement well a simple supper of beans and brown rice or a sweet potato with almond butter.

Grateful Gratin
Inspired by "Winter Greens Gratin" by The Bon Appetit Test Kitchen (December 2012)

1 fist-sized piece of vegan, gluten-free bread (I used a few molasses oatmeal rolls)
1/4 cup almond meal

1 small onion, half-mooned
pinch Kosher salt
6 cups kale, chopped
3 cups mustard greens, chopped
2 cups watercress, chopped
1 16-ounce can lite coconut milk
4 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper

Grease an 8-inch square glass or 9-inch, deep round baking dish and set aside.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Crumble in the bread and stir around.  Toast, stirring occasionally, for five minutes or until slightly browned.  Transfer to a small bowl and add the almond meal.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the onion and salt. Cook the onion over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to turn translucent and brown spots appear. Add half the kale and all of the mustard greens and watercress.  Stir to wilt.  Press in the garlic cloves.  Pour in the coconut milk and add the remaining spices. Stir and cook for a few minutes until the greens are halfway wilted (volume reduced by about a quarter). Stir in the rest of the kale and turn off the heat. Transfer the greens to the baking dish and top with the almond meal-breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until it is bubbling around the edge and topping has browned.  Cool for fifteen minutes before serving to allow flavours to meld.

This dish makes for sophisticated brunch fare as well, the green stems providing textural contrast to a smoothie with granola. Git yer greens on!

For many reasons I am grateful to my mother, but here’s another.  Ever hear of that “clean eating” phenomenon that’s swept the wellness world off its collective feet for the last few months?  After reading this definition at answerfitness.com, I concluded that my mother has been serving our family “clean” foods since day one.  Clean eating basically means consuming that which is minimally processed and often has one ingredient (e.g., kale, brown rice, whole wheat flour). 

A few months ago, I remarked to my mom that I eat so much brown food these days—brown rice, organic sweeteners, dates—yet I’ve always eaten such since she raised my brother and me on whole wheat breads.  She replied that if she had known I would become like this (so concerned about healthy food), that she would’ve fed me more “brown stuff.”  Thanks, Ownie Mom!
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