For the most part, I think, food lovers have come a long way with regards to vegetarian eating: by now, most of us know that "meat-free" does not automatically imply "light" or "healthy" or even "not decadent." Except maybe this guy.
Take, for example, my dad. For at least as long as I can personally attest to, he's loved food of all kinds and was never exactly your typical meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. Still, though, when I was growing up we had meat at every dinner unless we were eating pasta; my dad just didn't think an evening meal without meat could be indulgent or filling enough. Luckily, over time, my health-conscious mom has managed to mold him just slightly, and they even (happily) eat at vegan restaurants sometimes. The times, they are a-changin'.
This recipe is a great example of a rich, comforting vegetarian dish. Sure, it's loaded with healthy cabbage and its dark green cousin, kale. But it's also topped with cheese and butter. Vegetarian? Yes. Meager? Certainly not.
Adapted from the New York Times
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound (about 1 small head) cabbage, preferably savoy or Napa, quartered, cored and sliced thinly
- 1 pound (about 2 bunches) kale of any type, stemmed, washed and sliced thinly
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup cooked rice, white or brown, preferably short grain (about 1/2 raw rice)
- 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, tightly packed
- 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon butter, cut into tiny cubes
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a two-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, thyme and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion sweats but does not brown, about 4 minutes. Add cabbage and cook, stirring, until it wilts slightly, about 3 minutes. Add kale and cook, stirring, until all vegetables have softened but retain color and texture, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Quickly stir eggs, rice and half of the Gruyere cheese into the cooked vegetables. Transfer to greased baking pan, packing down tightly. Top gratin with breadcrumbs and remaining cheese, then dot surface with butter cubes. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until firm and browned on the top. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve hot or warm.