Vegan Oven-Baked Kale Gratin
Kale….but make it craveable. That’s exactly what this vegan oven-baked kale gratin delivers in spades. I’m not kidding when I say I could eat the whole pan myself.
Despite the conventional wisdom that you shouldn’t make a recipe for the first time when people come over (because how stressful would it be if it doesn’t work?), I’m famous for testing out new recipes on company. When I first made this kale gratin, I took that devil-may-care attitude a couple notches further.
It was Christmas.
And I veganized this gratin recipe from Bon Appetit – which I had never made before – on the fly.
Cream? No problem, cashew cream instead. Boil the onion in the cream? Cannot do…let’s use onion powder. Is my roasted squash burning in the oven right now? Whatever!
WELL. It was so freaking good I almost couldn’t stand it. So I knew I had to recreate it for you here before the weather got too warm to wanna bake kale for an hour.
Don’t let the time this recipe takes deter you. Most of it is in the oven…and you can be doing other things, like catching up on Netflix. In fact, the only thing about this recipe that is even remotely time-consuming is washing and tearing four bunches of kale. And the first time you make this recipe, you’ll love it so much that you’ll consider making kale washing your full time career.
I’ve made this oven-baked kale gratin a couple of times now, and I have a way I like to wash the kale that feels a bit more efficient:
- I put a salad spinner into the sink and de-stem and tear the unwashed kale right into the spinner. Save the stems, you can chop them and cook in a stir-fry or something later.
- Then I fill up the spinner bowl with water and use my hands to agitate the kale to wash it. You’l probably only fit half the kale into the spinner at one time. I lift the spinner basket from the bowl to remove the kale and drain off the water.
- Drop the kale onto a rimmed baking sheet and repeat with the other half of the kale. You don’t have to spin the kale as the water on the leaves will help it wilt.
There are lots of healthy kale recipes out there. There are also kale recipes that taste so good they seem like they couldn’t possibly be good for you. This vegan oven-baked kale gratin falls into the latter category.
Everything in this recipe, from the kale to the cashew cream, is super good for you. This recipe is officially anti-inflammatory but doesn’t taste like it. Sure, it’s got a wee bit of salt and faux cheese…but come on! It’s SO good.
This gratin would be delicious with some sort of lentil nut loaf for a special meal, or grilled tofu, or you could even throw in a big can of cannellini beans into the mix and call it a complete meal, kind of like my Sweet Potato Chard Gratin (obviously I’m a fan of anything creamed).
Vegan Oven-Baked Kale Gratin
- 2 pounds curly or tuscan kale (about 4 bunches), de-stemmed and torn into large pieces
- 1 ½ cups raw cashews
- 1 ½ cups water
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled, divided
- 1 sprig rosemary, about 4-5 inches long, leaves only, chopped
- 1 lemon, zested, divided
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1 ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon dried chile flakes
- 5 slices vegan cheese, torn into large pieces (I like Violife Provolone or Daiya Swiss style)
- ½ cup regular or gluten free panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- High Speed Blender
- Preheat oven to 350°Fahrenheit (180°Celsius).
- Place cashews and water in a blender. Grate 2 of the cloves of garlic into the blender. Add rosemary, onion powder, garlic powder, half the lemon zest, 1 ¼ teaspoon (6ml) salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Blend until smooth and taste. The cream should taste saltier than you would otherwise make as the kale is unseasoned. If not, add more salt (I add ¼ teaspoon (1ml) extra for 1 ½ teaspoon (6ml) total). I like a little squeeze of lemon juice in there too. Set aside.
- Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat without oil. Add ⅓ of the kale and cover with a lid for one minute to start the wilting process.
- Uncover and stir until wilted by half, about 1-2 minutes more, then push that kale to the side and repeat the process with the remaining kale. You are only wilting it enough to get it all in the skillet - it's okay if some of the kale is barely wilted as it will cook in the oven. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, grate the remaining clove of garlic, and then mix in panko, remaining lemon zest, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Pour the cashew cream over the kale. Top the kale with the torn cheese and then sprinkle with bread crumb mixture.
- Bake until cashew cream is bubbling, cheese is melted and crumbs are golden brown, about 50-55 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool for a moment and serve.
12 Comments on “Vegan Oven-Baked Kale Gratin”
I just bought all the ingredients for the “Oven- Baked Kale Gratin” that I will be making this week. The recipe calls for regular or gluten free panko bread crumbs. I have whole wheat bread crumbs already that I did not know if I should use. Is this ok or should I get panko bread crumbs to be on the safe side? I am so excited to try this recipe! Thank you!
Oh Jordanna, you’re going to LOVE it!!! You can absolutely use regular crumbs, they just have less of that flaky crispy texture. But they’ll still be delicious 🙂
Hello again! Desiree, we decided we want to make this recipe a main meal on Friday. We are going to try to use dry cannellini beans. Can you please tell us: 1)How many dry beans do we sort, soak, and cook (to get 6 total servings), 2) Of the 7 steps above, which step do we add the cooked beans? 3) If we can’t get dry cannellini beans, how many cans of cannellini beans do we use?
Thank you! 😁
Ooh fun! So, I would add 3 cups of cooked white beans to boost the protein. Sprinkle them on the kale before you put the cream sauce on! However, I don’t recommend making ‘just enough’ beans for the dish…make a bunch! It takes so long to soak and cook beans that I always make a big pot of them. What to do with the rest so they don’t spoil? Lay them out on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets until they are room temp and the moisture has mostly evaporated. Then pop the whole baking sheet into the freezer until frozen (not long, maybe an hour or two!). Transfer beans to freezer bags and then you’ll have cooked beans at the ready for any meals you wish. Voila!!
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Hey Desiree and Fellow Cooking Friends! I tried to give this recipe 5 stars as a 7th vote above but there was a computer glitch and the system didn’t allow me to and instead I was moved automatically to the comments. So that is why I am using 5 yellow stars! Also, I could not use the black stars below. Please count my vote as #7 and add 5 stars into the average above!😄
The flavor was absolutely fabulous! We are looking for more ways to eat greens in our diet because they are such an important contributor to longevity. We need you Desiree to work your magic to help them taste great which you totally delivered in this recipe in our humble opinion! We know we should eat more greens but they can be so bitter sometimes. They were absolutely wonderful in this recipe!
A few details about my experience cooking today:
1. The cashew cream sauce was perfect and to die for! You mentioned to use 1/4 tsp. of dried chile flakes in the ingredients but in the instructions you typed red pepper flakes. I did not know which one to use. I used ground chile because I did not have dried chile flakes and I thought ground chile probably was closer in flavor to dried chile flakes instead of red pepper flakes. Did I use the right logic, Desiree?
2. We did not think the cashew cream sauce needed more than 1 1/4 tsp. of salt. Your initial quantity of 1 1/4 tsp. was perfect for our taste! I know everyone is different! We also loved your idea to add lemon juice to the cashew cream sauce. We found it brightened the flavor very pleasantly! I added 1/2 of lemon juice from the 1/2 lemon that was zested in the cashew sauce and it worked out great!
3. I used a glass baking dish because I do not have an oven-proof skillet. My mom told me that if we use a glass or ceramic baking dish, those contents conduct heat faster than metal and we should decrease the temp. by 25 degrees. So we baked this “bad boy” for 55 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. I probably will try to bake it 45 minutes next time. I know everyone’s oven is probably different!
4. Next time I make this recipe, I will need to pour the cashew cream sauce on top of the kale and then mix it up and incorporate the incredibly delicious cashew cream sauce so that every piece of kale has the cream sauce. Today, I just poured the cashew cream sauce on top of the kale and most of the kale did not get the delicious cream sauce below the top layer.
5. We used regular dairy provolone cheese on top today because we wanted to live on the wild side! 😎 We oscillate between being vegans and octo- lavo vegetarians most days of the week. I have tried vegan cheese in the past and it is equally as delicious as regular cheese.
I have a feeling this dish will be a regular on our menu each month! I hope you guys get a chance to try and enjoy this healthy and delicious dish as much as we did for lunch today! Thank you for your time, everyone! Happy holidays!
Ah!! So glad you liked it Jordanna. This is honestly one of my favourite treats…we make it all the time 🙂
Hey this is Jordanna again! One more after thought is covering this gratin with aluminum foil for 45 minutes while baking in the oven may help the kale to not dry out. The last 15 minutes of cooking, removing the foil may help the delicious bread crumb topping to crisp up. I am determined to remake this recipe with the changes because the flavor is awesome! Cooking is a learning process but the end product is worth it! 🙂
Great tip!! Thank you for sharing…I didn’t find mine dried out but perhaps with different pan sizes it might happen 🙂
Yes, I think the cooking vehicle ( need to buy a large oven proof skillet) and foil are some changes that I will make next time to more evenly distributed the cashew cream sauce and retain the moisture while baking. The flavor components of the cashew cream sauce, cheese, and bread crumbs bring this dish to the moon in terms of flavor!
Just 1 more question! When you created this recipe, did you use dried chile flake or red pepper flake?
Thank you so much! I still have 5 pieces of provolone cheese left so I am going to remake this recipe next week. 🙂 Jordanna
Hi Jordanna 🙂 I meant red pepper flakes…I tend to use both terms interchangeably!
Whoops! I meant to type ovo-lacto vegetarians in #5 above. No one probably cares but I didn’t want anyone to be confused! I actually first learned those words in Desiree’s latest cookbook, “Eat More Plants.” My family is now vegan (thanks to Desiree)on some days, ovo-lacto-vegetarian (we eat eggs and dairy except for cow’s milk)on some days, and pescatarians on other days.
I had trouble giving 5 stars to this recipe when I first made it. With your new website changes, I am able to easily give it 5 stars for flavor now! 🙂