Green Barley and Kale Gratin

(from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison)

  • 2/3 c pearl barley, rinsed
  • Salt and freshly milled pepper
  • 1 large bunch kale, about 1-1/4 lbs, stems entirely removed
  • 2 T butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 1-1/2 c milk or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 c grated Gruyere or provolone

In saucepan, add barley to 1 qt. boiling water with 1/2 tsp salt and simmer, uncovered until tender, about 30 minutes.  Drain.  While it's cooking, cook the kale in a skillet of boiling salted water until tender, 6-10 minutes.  Drain, then puree with 1/4 c cooking water until smooth.

Preheat oven to 375.  Melt butter in small saucepan, whisk in flour, then add milk (or stock).  Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat, until thick.  Season with allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Combine all the ingredients, check seasonings, then transfer to a lightly butter baking dish or ramekins.

Bake until lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes.  If you've used ramekins, run a knife around the edges, then un-mold them by giving them a sharp rap on the counter.  Present them browned side up.

(Cook's note - you can very easily make a white sauce without dairy or wheat flour. Substitute either a butter substitute or olive oil and some other type flour - I've used sorghum and it works just fine. Almond milk (unsweetened) works well in place of the milk, too.)