Greens and Rice Gratin

(Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman, New York Times) 

This dish has become our standby for using greens from the market. If we’re pickling beets or using turnips in a stew or salad, we save the greens for this delicious casserole—which is as good cold for lunch as it is warm. And funny enough, some friends who don’t care for beets love the greens. If you don’t have beet or turnip greens handy, spinach and kale also work. 4–6 servings. 

  • 1 large bunch greens (beet or turnip, stemmed and washed) 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced 
  • Salt to taste 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried thyme 
  • 3 eggs 
  • ½ cup milk  
  • Freshly ground pepper 
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1 cup cooked rice, arborio rice or Calrose rice 
  • 3 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (½ cup, tightly packed) 
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs  

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 2-quart gratin dish with olive oil or butter. Blanch the greens for 1 minute in a large pot of generously salted boiling water. Rinse with cold water, squeeze out water and chop medium-fine. Set aside. 

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes, and add the garlic and salt to taste (about a teaspoon). Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, so that the garlic starts to lightly brown. Stir in the cooked greens and the thyme and toss. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Remove from the heat. 

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. Add ½  teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add the cayenne or a dash of hot sauce. Stir in the greens mixture, the rice and the cheeses and mix together well. Scrape into the oiled baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top. Drizzle with about a tablespoon of oil. 

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until sizzling and lightly browned on the top and sides. Remove from the heat and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.