Brown Rice and Kale Gratin

OMG this is so good. Yes, I did just start this post as though it were a text message, but hear me out: this is absolutely delicious. I’ll even bet good money that it will become an immediate staple in your recipe repertoire.

Seattle is culinaryly lucky in many areas like donuts, coffee and woodfired pizza. We are also lucky in cheese. Who knew, right? This recipe is take on Beecher’s Brown Rice and Kale Gratin. Beecher’s is a handmade, artisan cheese shop in Pike Place Market. They have world’s best mac and cheese, squeaky cheese curds, amazing sandwiches and a handful of other creations made with their signature Flagship cheese, which is a sharp, white cheddar. There is plenty of that in this gratin meaning you can’t really go wrong no matter how much kale you add.

Speaking of kale. It’s the #1 good-for-you food according to my nutritionist who I hope hasn’t seen this post. Or this one. But I digress. Her encouragement of my kale consumption has led me to trying kale again and again in an attempt to love it like I want to. I’m not quite there yet. I still make a bit of a face when it’s too over powering. When I saw this recipe I had a bit of a head slap moment — of course, put cheese on it! It’s the age old trick of how parent’s get their kids to like broccoli! My goal is to eventually not need the cheese, but in the meantime, it’s quite tasty.

This recipe also has made me a fan of short grain brown rice in gratins. I urge you to consider adding some to whatever gratin you happen to be whipping up. It never gets soggy, adds a perfect nuttiness and is chewy. I’m a fan of chewy. I’m sure the French would disapprove but just don’t tell them. They are very busy pressing their striped shirts and enrolling in mime classes anyway.

I know it’s not even Halloween yet but I’m gonna go ahead and say this would make an unbelievable side dish for Thanksgiving. It’s hearty and its flavors will meld well with all the other pasty goodness on your plate.

Brown Rice and Kale Gratin

(Recipe adapted slightly from Kathryn‘s)


1 large shallot, minced
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups short grain brown rice
6 cups of 2% milk
1 large bunch kale, enough to make 2 cups when finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon light colored vegetable stock concentrate or 2 bouillon cubes
6-8 ounces of extremely sharp cheddar-style cheese — Beecher’s if you can get it!
1/2 cup of bread crumbs

The prep:

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed 3.5 – 6 quart pan. Add shallot and saute until brown.

Add brown rice and saute with shallot for about 5 minutes, until it starts to get a little toasted.

Add milk, stock concentrate, spices and dijon. Bring to a boil. Once at a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cover for 45 minutes – 1 hour. You can peek and stir occasionally without problem.

Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 350º.

At the end of the rice’s cooking time, add in 2-3 cups finely chopped kale. More if you love it, you lucky, healthy person, you. Cook an additional 5 minutes of so to help soften the kale.

At this point it should be rather thick. If it is not, put two tablespoons flour in a small bowl and add some of the remaining liquid from the rice mix. Stir to make a roux and add back to pan to thicken. (If you are more of a corn starch fan, use that instead. I think with corn starch you’d be OK with just 1 tablespoon.) Once thick enough to be like a wet paste, spoon into 9×13 casserole dish. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs (cheese first!) and put into preheated oven for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown and bubbly.



  1. Ali
    Posted October 28, 2010 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Oh this sounds so winter-ish and yummily satisfying. Thank you. Making it this weekend.

    Also, your blog is one of my favourite vegetarian food blogs (and I’m sure you know there are quite a few of them out there). Your writing is fun to read.

    Just wanted to let you know you have a fan from the Netherlands :) keep up the good work.

  2. altrooheather
    Posted October 28, 2010 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Thank you for saying such kind things! It’s really nice to hear that, totally validating! Thank you!

    Let me know if you like the gratin! I am pretty sure I’ll make it at least half a dozen times this winter.

    : )

  3. Posted October 29, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    If only I could have the dairy. :(

    This looks delicious.

  4. altrooheather
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Oh! Let me point you over to Trudy at Veggie Num Num, she just posted a dairy free gratin that looks amazing and versatile! Here is the link:

  5. Tina Williams
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Brilliant idea!!!!! I love that this is meat free and includes kale. I’m always looking for vegetarian entrees (trying to kick the meat habit) Since I’m also trying to kick the fat habit I will experiment a bit to reduce the cheese and add a protein element. Perhaps quinoa.Thank you

  6. altrooheather
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I think quinoa would work, it’s cooking time is a lot less but I think it would hold up if added at tail end of the rice cooking. If you try that let me know!

    Yeah, this isn’t super good for you (past the kale!) but it’s very filling and a little bit was plenty. Which makes the cheese somewhat justifiable? Maybe? Hee hee.

  7. Bebe
    Posted November 20, 2010 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I made this last night and I thought it was a very nice, hearty dish. I only made it for one so I halved all the ingredients and I used soy milk. I didn’t have enough brown rice so I substituted some red rice and lentils. I had to add more liquid and I probably overbaked it slightly because I was doing other things – but all in all I really enjoyed it!! I had it as a main dish with some salad and garlic bread. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I’m always wondering what to do with the massive bags of kale I’m always buying when they’re on offer! Plus, it has nutmeg – mmmm.

  8. altrooheather
    Posted November 20, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    I’m glad you gave it a whirl with soymilk, I was wondering how that would work! I’m glad it turned out! I love this dish and am totally craving it. It might have to make an appearance at Thanksgiving! And I agree — nutmeg is awesome!

    (P.S. Apologies for my sloooow reply! I was sick and then started a new project and it all conspired to make be behind on everything!)

  9. Posted February 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I am going to try substituting with coconut milk. and maybe a goat cheese or a vegan cheese something that is easier on a lactose intolerant tummy. I will update on how it turns out. yay!

  10. Posted February 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    The coconut worked sooooooo well. I highly recommend!

  11. altrooheather
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    O! That’s great info! Thanks for checking back in! I can see coconut being very complimentary to kale!

  12. Posted February 18, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    It turned out so yummy!!

  13. altrooheather
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad you liked it! It’s one of my favorites for sure. Mmmmm!

  14. Mark Debelack
    Posted July 7, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I love the Beecher’s casserole and will give this a try.

    Kale is also fantastic as a chip, which I never expected. You just remove the woody part of the stem, toss with olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt, then roast at low heat until crisp. It is fantastic and one of my favorite snacks.

  15. heather b.
    Posted November 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had store bought kale chips but have never made my own. Did you see that Trader Joe’s has cleaned, cut and ready to roast kale in the produce section? Makes the homemade kale chip a lot easier!

  16. Madame Fromage
    Posted November 25, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I feel so lucky to have found this — searched “kale” and “brown rice” and was thinking I’d make a quick post-Thanksgiving soup. But this is even better, as I happen to be a big ol’ lover of Beecher’s Cheddar. Thanks for the recipe!

One Trackback

  1. […] recipe comes from a gal from Seattle, named Heather. Here is her recipe for Brown Rice and Kale Gratin. I tweaked it only in that I added TONS of kale, and used some chicken stock to replace 2 cups of […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *