Aunt Betty used to prepare countless renditions of every type of fresh vegetable when I was growing up so I’m sure Creamed Spinach was also part of her repertoire. Funny thing is, I can’t recall it as one of her notables. I am also assured my mother would never have prepared Creamed Spinach for it took at least a couple of years to get her into the Green Bean Casserole first prepared by Aunt Dot shortly after its invention. So how I hooked onto creamed spinach as some sort of comfort food is anybody’s guess. Some gals go for the quart of Haagen Daaz, I would cook me up a box of frozen creamed spinach. Don’t even get me started on mashed potatoes. Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.
So recently, on one of those teaser cool fall days (of which there have been few since) I began craving creamed spinach but with a couple bright green bunches of fresh crisp kale at hand Creamed Kale seemed a practical means to give it a go. Naturally then, being the fresh ingredient freak as I am, like the Haagen Daaz gal who needs to add a big bag of chips to that quart of ice cream, I can never seem to stop at just one ingredient. After all, those really pretty Pennsylvania fresh crimini mushrooms nearly popping out of the little brown bag were just waiting for me to all but say, sure, you can come along too. I swear, I really didn’t say this out loud to the mushrooms. I think. But the outcome was the same, Creamed Kale with Mushrooms.
- 1 tablespoon butter melted in a gratin dish
- 1 1/2 cups milk (see Note below)
- 1 pound kale
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 8 crimini mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- one or two pinches coarse kosher salt
- few grinds pepper
- Place a tablespoon of butter into gratin dish, heat in microwave around ten seconds to melt, use a pastry brush to grease all around the inside.
- Gently heat milk following the note below, straining once the flavored milk has infused for ten minutes before returning back to the pan.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, remove kale leaves from stems, add in a good couple pinches of salt, tumble in the kale, cook 2 minutes, drain, cool, squeeze dry of liquid, chop, set aside.
- Heat a small saute pan, add in a tablespoon butter, swirl butter around pan, add mushrooms, cook on medium high heat until mushrooms are lightly golden all around, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, transfer to a small dish, set aside.
- Re-warm milk. Prepare roux in a medium sized saute pan, melt one tablespoon butter, sprinkle over the flour and whisk on medium heat for around 2 1/2 minutes, remove from heat, add in around a quarter of the milk, return to low heat whisking constantly slowly pouring in the remaining milk a little at a time until fully incorporated, stir in cheese, whisking until cheese is melted through, sprinkle in the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir in the kale and mushrooms. Transfer mixture to gratin dish.
- Serve straight away or cool, cover and refrigerate. For later serving: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, cover dish with aluminum foil, bake for 17 minutes before removing aluminum foil and cooking another fifteen minutes, or a bit longer, until Creamed Kale is hot and bubbling.
- Note for the Milk: To provide more depth and a richer flavor base to your Creamed Kale and Mushrooms, toss a half onion, 4 peppercorns, a small end piece of celery, and a bay leaf into the small pot with the milk, warm through, let set for ten minutes to infuse, strain, return milk back to pot until adding to the roux.