What We’re Cooking This Week: Cavolo Nero Gratinado

Refrigerated cooked greens like black cabbage make it easy to put together a hot dish with beans and an Italian-style white sauce.

Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.

I like to have cooked greens in the refrigerator to eat daily with beans, and that makes a hot dish like this quick to put together. But you can start with a bunch of Italian kale, also called lacinato kale or, in Italian, cavolo nero for black cabbage. I like the flavor, and almost always braise the chopped greens, stems and all, with an onion in olive oil and water.

To make them more presentable, not to mention delicious, I make besciamella, an Italian-style white sauce, with olive oil, flour, milk and Parmigiano-Reggiano, spread it over a layer of greens, and bake it until it turns caramelly brown.

Cavolo Nero Gratinado

For the greens:

1 bunch Italian kale, chopped 1/2 inch long, including stems

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup water

1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a pot with a lid, cook the onion in the olive oil and salt for a few minutes, then add the greens and water. Cover, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 40 minutes. Remove the lid, cook for another minute, and let cool.

For the besciamella:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups milk

2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Kosher salt to taste

Grated fresh nutmeg, optional

Heat the olive oil and flour gently until it bubbles. Cook for a few minutes to lose the raw flour flavor, then stir in the milk. Stir until thick, remove from heat, and add cheese, nutmeg and salt.

For the gratinado:

Spread the cooked greens in a skillet or baking dish, top with the besciamella, and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.