Creamed Kale (and Broccoli Rabe)

Um. I was not expecting this. Not at all. Creamed greens (in the U.S. generally creamed spinach) are those old standbys that no one really admits to making all that much anymore. And it's a shame, for creamed greens are not only good but the can be good for you (if you watch just how much cream you put in them). 

From Food and Wine's Creamed Kale to The Food Network's Creamed Broccoli, lots of people are jumping on the creamed vegetable bandwagon again these days, and I am no exception. However, most of these are very heavy on the cream. Not with this recipe from Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, the founders of Food52.  Instead, this is a bitter mouthful rounded out with only a susuration of cream. As it should be.

As you probably already know given my last couple of posts, I have taken up Hesser and Stubbs challenge to spend my Sunday cooking and then sitting back for the rest of the week. Dinners (and lunches) practically make themselves. 

I started with these glorious lamb shoulder chops and coupled them up with some stuck-pot rice. Now, we have already established time and again on this here blog that I love lamb. And this lamb is good. In fact, really good, especially since it is quite simple to prepare and this particular cut is not hard on the wallet. However, this recipe for creamed kale is what stole the show.  And here's the secret:

It's not creamed kale.

It's really creamed broccoli rabe. In fact, I would say that the ratio that I had (given the 1 1/2 pounds of broccoli rabe my bunch provided and the slightly wimpy bundle of kale that I had) was 5:1 broccoli rabe. And that's how it should be. 

Because the rabe is mouth-puckeringly bitter, which is the perfect accompaniment to toasty rice, unctuous eggs, or gamey lamb. Or, let's face it, entirely on its own in heaping spoonfuls straight from the refrigerator on Monday morning. Not that this happened. (Okay, it happened. And on Tuesday morning as well.)

Now Hesser and Stubbs assure us that this would be a great topping for ricotta gnocchi, but I didn't get around to making that. I would like to be able say that I regret that. But I don't. See also: heaping spoonfuls straight from the fridge.

So, let's pull out this updated dish, dig in, and pucker up, because this is one updated creamed greens dish that is worth trotting out time and again. Let's do this.

Creamed Kale (and Broccoli Rabe)

Adapted from Food 52's A New Way to Dinner

Makes 4 cups, enough for 2 dinners as side dishes

1 pound bunch of broccoli rabe, trimmed
2 small bunches kale, stemmed
4 ounces pancetta, cut int 1/4 inch dice or slices
1/4 olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream (bah, milk would be fine)
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup crème fraîche, sour cream, or yogurt

1. Rinse the broccoli rabe and kale in plenty of water, then drain, letting the excess water cling to the leaves.

2. In a large pot or dutch oven, spread the pancetta and cook over medium heat until the fat renders and the pancetta is crispy. You may need to lower the heat as you go. Transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. As much as it pains me to write this, wipe out the pancetta drippings (although you could try not doing so. I bet it's good.)

3.  Pile broccoli rabe and kale into the large pot. Pour the olive oil over the greens and season with salt. Place over high heat and cook until the greens begin to wilt, moving them from the bottom of the pot to the top using tongs. When the greens are fully wilted and most of the liquid has been cooked off, add the cream and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute more.

4.  Transfer the greens to a food processor, adding about half of the creamy liquid from the pot. Puree the greens until they are coarse but certainly broken down. Add more liquid if needed (you'll probably need it). Add the lemon juice and the crème fraîche, sour cream, or yogurt.  Puree until a bit smoother, but still coarse  Taste and adjust the seasoning. Then stir in the pancetta. Store in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

5.  The day of: Reheat the greens with a splash of water in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. 


  1. Just made this tonight. It was delicious BUT I had no liquid to transfer in step 2. My greens absorbed the cream almost instantly. Really good, though.

    1. I love that you tried it! Really good, yes? I found that there wasn't a lot of liquid either, but I think that was one of my favorite parts. Not too soppy. However, you could always add more cream. More cream is never, never a bad thing.


Post a Comment

By Popular Demand

Ottolenghi's Lemon and Eggplant Risotto

Ottolenghi's Semolina, Coconut and Marmalade Cake

Cookbook #4: Cheese Board: Collective Works

Ottolenghi's Salmon Steaks in Chraimeh Sauce

Butternut Squash Crumble