I’m always excited to come up with new kale recipes.  This time of year it’s the only local leafy green I can get.  I used to see it in the store but never buy it because I wasn’t sure how to prepare kale, but I finally let my sense of adventure take over, and now when I buy kale I get excited as I think of the possibilities.  This kale casserole is what I consider one of my southern recipes, and was one of the side dishes I serve at my local and seasonal Christmas party because it’s so simple to make.

Although you can purchase kale year round, it has the most flavor in winter months so I usually only eat it November through February.  You want to look for dark green kale leaves, or a bluish green, when choosing your bunch of kale.  Kale has a very tough texture, I love the crinkle of the leaves in my hand as I tear them into small pieces.  It feels almost like a thick piece of cellophane.

Kale contains high amounts of vitamin C and A, and is also a good source of copper and manganese.  For something this healthy, it’s worth finding ways to work it into your diet.  When I brought this dish out at my party, my mother mentioned that she doesn’t like kale but was willing to try the casserole.  So her excitement over how delicious this dish was endorses it above and beyond anything I can say about it.

Although I’m not southern, I think of this as a southern recipe because it uses cheese, cream and sausage.  I LOVE dairy products and so use the full fat good stuff, but in moderation (not with every meal!).  A couple options I’ve tried if you want this a little lighter are to sub half the cream with milk, and to use less meat or omit it completely.  I’ve made this several times and it’s just as good with bacon, prosciutto, or breakfast sausage.  Do you have a favorite kale recipe for me to try?

(By the way, I still have TONS to share with you from the Food Blogger camp, but will be interspersing it with recipes so you can keep eating!)

Kale and Parmesan Casserole

serves 6 as side

Ingredients

1 large bunch of kale
1/2 cup water
1 TBS olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped summer sausage
1 cup heavy cream
3 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Instructions

Preheat the broiler.  Tear kale leaves away from the thick center stem and discard stems.  Now tear the leaves into bite size pieces and rinse in a colander.  Add leaves to a large skillet with the 1/2 cup of water.

Cover skillet and turn burner to medium high.  Heat the kale for 8 minutes, but don’t lift the lid because the steam is softening the kale!

Pour your kale into the colander and return the pan to the stove, this time on low.  Add olive oil, garlic, and sausage to the pan.  Stir for two minutes then add the cream.  Simmer on low for 8 minutes.

Add cooked kale to the pan and stir well.  Sprinkle in the panko and cheese, stir again.  Pack into a casserole dish or individual ramekins.  Place under the broiler 3-5 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Approximate cost/serving: Kale is very affordable, I can easily get one bunch for $1.30.  With the other ingredients the casserole comes out to about $2.50.  I made this feed 12 at my party, but if you just have one or two other sides it serves 6 at 42 cents a serving.

Vegetarian/gluten free:  There’s still dairy but you can easily leave out the meat.  For gluten free use gluten free panko or breadcrumbs.


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