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The Full Yield Blog

Green Gratin of Barley and Kale

October 24, 2011 | Tags: Deborah Madison , Food , Vegetables | Post comment

Green Gratin of Barley and Kale

You might feel dubious about the possibilities for this dish, but amazingly, it is not at all dowdy because the kale makes the barley bright green. You can use any kind of kale for this dish. You could also make it with chard. Serve it alone or with tomato sauce. If you like a crunchy topping, scatter fresh bread crumbs over the surface before baking.  Bake this in a gratin dish or, a bit more special, in individual ramekins.  

Special note:
This dish involves making a béchamel sauce, which is a good thing to know because it can replace cream very effectively and it’s what can give luscious moisture to grain and vegetable dishes. It’s not at all hard nor time consuming, so if this is your first encounter with béchamel sauce, do not fear! For liquid you can use milk, soymilk, vegetable stock, chicken stock —almost any liquid, but maybe not coconut milk, which is a little too sweet.


4 cups boiling water

1 and 1/3 cup uncooked barley (prefereable whole or hull-less)

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large bunch kale, about 1 1/4 quarter pounds, the ropy stems removed
2 tablespoons butter or neutral oil
3 tablespoons flour (prefereably whole wheat or white whole wheat)
1 1/2 cups warm milk, vegetable or chicken stock
1/4-teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Gruyère or provolone cheese


Lightly oil an 8 X 10 gratin dish or individual ramekins.

Add the barley to the boiling water with 1/2-teaspoon salt and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.  Drain but reserve the cooking water.

While the barley is cooking, steam the kale until it’s tender, 6 to 10 minutes.  Taste as it cooks. Drain, then purée with 1/4 cup of the cooking water until smooth, adding more if needed.

Heat the oven to 375’F.  Melt the butter or heat the oil in a small saucepan, whisk in the flour, then gradually whisk in the milk or sauce. Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat until thick. Season with nutmeg, allspice, salt and pepper.

Combine the barley, kale, sauce and cheese. Taste for salt and other seasonings, and then transfer to the baking dish or ramekins.  Bake until lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes or slightly less for individual gratins.  If you’ve used ramekins, run a knife around the edges, then unmold them by giving them a sharp rap on the counter.  Present them browned side up.

Serves 4 to 6