Chef Laura Pope has teamed up with Comté cheese to create this tasty dish, which is perfect as a side or a light supper… and is good for you too!
Two types of greens pack a nutritious punch and also provide delicious contrast to the Comté in this comforting, yet light, dish. This is perfect for a wintry side dish.
- 200g black kale (cavolo nero), de-stemmed and washed thoroughly
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 500g chicory, trimmed, quartered and sliced into 2cm strips
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 20g fresh dill, leaves picked and chopped
- 3 medium eggs
- 120ml semi-skimmed milk
- 200g cooked rice (short grain, preferably)
- 200g 20-24 month Comté, coarsely grated
- 4 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
1Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add a generous amount of salt and add the kale. Blanch for 2 minutes, drain in a colander and run under the cold tap to stop the cooking process. Drain and squeeze the kale hard with your hands to get rid of excess water. Cut in thin ribbons.
2Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over a medium heat in a large, heavy frying pan and add the onion. Turn the heat down low and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until soft, then add the chicory. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until the chicory begins to soften. Reduce the heat if it starts to colour and add a pinch of salt to taste. Continue to stir and cook for about another 5 minutes, until the chicory is very tender and fragrant.
3Add the garlic and kale, stir together for another minute, then stir in the dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.
4Heat oven to 190℃ normal / 170℃ fan. Oil 6 individual ovenproof dishes (about 10cm in diameter and 6cm high). Or you can use one big dish, in which case, you’ll need to increase the cooking time – see step 6.
5Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then whisk in the milk and add ½ teaspoon salt. Stir in the chicory and kale mixture, the rice and 150g of the Comté, and combine well. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Divide the mix evenly between the 6 buttered dishes (or one big dish) and sprinkle the breadcrumbs and remaining Comté over the top, then drizzle over the remaining tablespoon of oil.
6Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (or 40 to 45 minutes if using one big dish), until the mixture has set and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. This is good served hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Laura’s top tip:
This tastes even better if made a day or two before cooking. You can make the filling up to two days in advance (steps 1 to 3) and keep it in the refrigerator in a covered container. The gratins can be made up to a day ahead and kept, covered, in the fridge – remember to remove them from the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking so they cook evenly.