Looking for a fresh twist on a holiday favorite? It occurred to me that kale would be just as tasty to cream as spinach is, plus kale would have a heartier texture. And since kale is in season, it’s very inexpensive, too. (Get an extra bunch and make some kale chips to serve as appetizers!) This take on creamed kale includes the staple ingredients that make creamed spinach a favorite — onions, butter, and a pinch of nutmeg — plus a slightly different version of the cream. You could stick with standard heavy cream if you like, or you can opt for what I’ve used, which is crème fraîche. Its cultured tang lends a fuller flavor to savory dishes, plus its probiotic nature means it’ll act like a digestive aid without anyone even noticing. And if you have leftover crème fraîche, by all means blend it into your mashed potatoes! They’ll be extra-creamy and rich.
Creamed Kale This makes enough to serve 4 as a side during a hearty holiday meal. Feel free to double or triple the recipe as you like. Leftover creamed kale is also lovely when tossed with cooked whole-grain pasta and some tuna fish.
1 large Spanish onion (or, if you’d like a naturally sweet kick to offset the slight bitterness of kale, use a sweet onion such as Vidalia), sliced thinly
At least 4 handfuls chopped kale (about 1 bunch)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (if you grate it fresh, use more like 1/4 tsp. since the flavor of fresh-grated nutmeg is much stronger)
Dash of sea salt
Few grinds of black pepper
1/4 cup crème fraîche OR heavy cream OR whole-milk plain Greek yogurt (the kale will be thicker and richer with the crème fraîche or the yogurt)
Melt a pat of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in kale, garlic, and nutmeg and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often to make sure that the kale wilts evenly and the garlic doesn’t burn. (The kale will fill up the skillet, but it’ll shrink quite a bit as it cooks.)
Pull the cooked kale off the heat and scoop into a food processor. Add salt, pepper, and crème fraîche and whirl mixture until the kale is finely chopped, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides. Serve immediately or set aside in a tightly covered container to keep warm until serving. (Wrapping the container in a thick towel will help it retain its heat.) Or you can refrigerate the creamed kale for up 4 days and reheat briefly over low heat just before serving.