Can you guys believe it’s almost Thanksgiving?! I seriously can’t. Maybe it’s because it’s still felt like summer here, but it really crept up on me!! Nonetheless, now is the time many of you are planning your Thanksgiving menus. And I am here to help.
I created this recipe the other day that I believe makes the perfect Thanksgiving side dish. (I don’t know about you, but ALL our side dishes on Thanksgiving are casseroles. And most of them are beige.) So I took the idea of creamed spinach, which everyone loves (even spinach dissers seem to get on board with it being suspended in cream and cheese, yeah?), swapped the spinach for collard greens and turned it all into a gratin.
This is fantastic. So creamy and delicious, and full of crunchy texture from the collard stems and crispy panko breadcrumbs on top. It’s really such a wonderful recipe. And it’s as easy to make as mac n cheese.
Best part? You’re using frozen, chopped collard greens. Yep.
All you’re doing is making an onion béchamel sauce, then adding cream cheese and gruyere and spices and collard greens… topping it all with some buttered panko crumbs and baking it until gold and bubbly.
What’s not to like?
More yummy Thanksgivingy things to come! …As I’ve been a cooking and cleaning fool for the past week. But for now I will be a wined up, saturday couch puddle and not apologize a minute for it.
In a medium saucepan, heat up (or use a safe, glass container and microwave until hot)…
- 2 cups milk (I prefer nothing less than whole milk for flavor purposes, but use what you have. Also I use canned evaporated milk a lot in such cases)
Let this stay warm while you begin your sauce.
In a large, high-sided skillet on medium heat, melt…
- 2 TB unsalted butter
- 2 TB canola/light olive oil
Once butter is melted and hot, add…
- 2 yellow onions, diced
Season with fat pinches of…
- kosher salt
Sweat out the onions and sauté until soft, but no need to brown.
- 1/4 cup flour
Stir to coat the flour in the onion mixture and let the thick roux cook for about a minute, stirring.
- 2 TB dijon mustard
- 1 brick (reduced fat) neufchâtel cream cheese
Stir to work the cream cheese and mustard into the roux. It will be sticking to the pan, but don’t worry about that.
Pour in your hot milk slowly, stirring as you go.
Once it’s all combined, season with…
- lots of freshly grated nutmeg
- lots of white pepper
- sprinkling of cayenne pepper
- more kosher salt to taste
- 2 cups shredded gruyere (this is a 1/2 lb. wedge with rind included before shredding/grating)
Always stir in a figure-eight pattern, so the cheese doesn’t ball up on the spatula.
Turn the heat off.
Stir until the cheese is fully melted.
- 3 (16 oz) bags frozen, chopped collard greens that you have defrosted, drained and squeezed all the liquid out of (I use an old kitchen towel and use my hands to wring it out after I’ve let it thaw).
Stir to fully combine.
Taste to check seasoning, adding more salt, nutmeg, white pepper, cayenne… make it your own and adjust as you feel the need.
Pour into a greased 9×11 inch ceramic or glass baking dish (or one that holds roughly 2-3 quarts).
Top with a mixture of…
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)
- 2 TB unsalted butter, melted
- pinches of kosher salt
Just stir the panko, melted butter and salt together in a bowl until the panko is moistened with the butter.
Sprinkle evenly over the collard mixture.
Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.