325 g/111/2 oz kale
2 litres/4 pints water
Butter for kale (optional), plus extra for greasing
100 ml/31/2 fl oz double cream
A pinch of nutmeg
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 organic, free-range egg, beaten
60 g/2 oz mature Cheddar, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
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Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6.
First remove the tough stems, then place the kale into the salted boiling water. The leaves should take about 6–7 minutes to become tender. Meanwhile, sparsely butter a 1-litre/2-pint soufflé dish.
Drain well and either slather with butter or do the following: season the double cream with salt, pepper, nutmeg and garlic. If you are making this with the mile high pie add the 2 remaining egg
whites, lightly beaten. If not, just add the whole beaten egg. Mix and pour into the prepared soufflé dish and add the grated mature Cheddar on top.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the egg is tremulously set, the cheese thickly melted. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving. If you are making this with the pie, put it in the oven about
10 minutes before the pie is due to come out. By the time they have sat about for the desired time, they’ll both be ready for the table.
There are other spinach-like greens, such as red-veined Swiss chard and cavolo nero that you can use in this or some other context. Swiss chard is by far the softer of the two, taking only 3 minutes to
turn to a crumpled mass in salted boiling water. Now don’t laugh, but the lightly salted red-hued water is delicious. I drink it like a cleansing tonic. But if that’s not your idea of fun, you can just stir-fry the Swiss chard in a little melted butter.
Cavolo nero takes 10 minutes, again in salted boiling water. Well drained, you can replace it for the kale in the gratin above or serve it with polenta, butter, freshly grated nutmeg and some shaved Parmesan. Unless I am serving it as a side vegetable, simply dressed, I tend to cut it into more humanly manageable pieces.
To any of these, you can also add drained borlotti or cannellini beans. I usually go for equal amounts of bean and leaf. A whole 400 g/14 oz can drained and mixed with 250 g/9 oz of hot wilted Swiss
chard is wonderful with 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon dressing.
Alternatively add tamari, Tabasco, more olive oil and a few stoned black olives. To make a whole meal of it, just for yourself, mix 125 g/41/2 oz greens with 125 g/41/2 oz fresh pasta (weights are before
cooking). Again dress with olive oil, lemon juice, finely minced garlic, 1 tablespoon double cream and some grated Parmesan.