The Good, the Bad, the Healthy and the Decadent: Purple au Gratin Potatoes with Kale and Bacon.
The first time I saw purple potatoes they were in our CSA* basket about 4 years ago. I opened the bag and saw some sooty dark skinned potatoes, but I didn't realize what they were until I washed and sliced one.
It was bright purple and it blew my mind. I went crazy making gorgeous mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes and simply stunning baked potatoes. I couldn't play enough with those purple tubers. (Note: they keep their color better in some dishes than others. When they're roasted their beautiful color fades. When they're mashed, they retain their color and make an impressive side dish – or a full meal if you're a huge fan of them. Sit down with a full bowl, I won't judge.)
But I dearly love them in scalloped potatoes. So, when we received our latest CSA and we had purple potatoes, I decided to up the ante and make them into au gratin potatoes. And because their brightly colored flesh contains carotenoids along with the antioxidant, anthocyanin – the same flavonoid that is found in red and purple blueberries and pomegranates – they are still pretty good for you, even when you cover them in cheese. However, I decided to go even further in a healthy direction by layering in kale. And then I took a sharp right turn and added cooked bacon too.
To sum up: Purple potatoes and kale are good, bacon and cheese are bad. So, I consider this dish to be completely equal in the “good food” and “bad food” category. Whichever way you decide to categorize them though, they are incredibly delicious.
Purple au Gratin Potatoes with Kale and Bacon
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook time:40 minutes
Yields – Serves 4.
48 grams fat
- 6 medium purple potatoes
- ¼ cup of butter
- 1 large red onion, diced and divided
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- Black pepper
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups of sharp shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 4 kale leaves, removed from the stalk and chopped
- 4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Scrub the potatoes, but don't peel them. (There are nutrients in that skin!) Slice them 1/8 of an inch thin on a mandoline or in a food processor.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan with half of the diced onion. Saute the onions until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute. Add the milk and cook over low heat until the milk is hot, but not boiling. Add 1 ½ cups of the cheese one handful at a time, whisking well to incorporate. When all of the cheese has melted, add black pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
Grease a 1 1/2-quart casserole, and layer ¼ of the potatoes, ¼ of the remaining onions, ¼ of the kale and 1 slice of crumbled bacon. Repeat 3 more times. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and add the remaining cheese. Cook until cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about another 15 minutes.
These go really well as a side dish to ham, roast beef, chicken or as a meal on their own. Again, I'm not judgmental.
(In case you're not familiar with what a CSA is, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. People buy “shares” in a farm and receive produce either through the summer and into early fall for a “summer share” or from mid-fall through January for a “winter share.” I'm lucky enough to live in an area with a few farms who offer the service, so I get a summer share from one and a winter share from another. Combined, I get fresh vegetables and fruit from June through January for less than $300.00. The bonus is that I get an amazing variety of organic vegetables very inexpensively, and the money I pay the farms helps them to buy seeds and other supplies in the off-season. Because it's just my husband and myself, we just get the “1/2 share” which means food every other week. If we got a “full share” the price would double and we'd get a basket of food every week. But that's just madness. A half share is almost more than we can handle, even though I cook, freeze and make pickles like a machine during the height of the farm's harvest.
However, the beauty and the craziness of a CSA means that we get what the farmers do. So in August, we're up to our necks in zucchini and tomatoes, and in the fall we're drowning in pumpkins, squash and kale. But, I don't mind. There are many bad things that happen in the world, and having “too much” gorgeous produce isn't one of them.
Or to misquote Jay Z: “I got a million problems, but a squash ain't one.”)