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Our Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin is a delicious side dish, or it can be served as a meatless meal.

Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin

This Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin is one of my husband Jack’s “pull-some-available-ingredients-from-the-refrigerator-and-make-a-delicious-recipe” creations.

How do you make Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin?

Cooked rice is combined with blanched Tuscan kale, sautéed fennel and Vidalia onions, and a creamy, cheesy egg mixture that all bakes up together into a delicious casserole with a crackly, golden bread crumb-Parmesan topping.


Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin

You can serve this Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin as a side dish with just about any grilled or roasted meat. Or, serve it with a garden salad on the side for a lighter, vegetarian meal.

Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin

Do I have to use Gruyère in this recipe?

Yes (we strongly encourage it)! One of the key flavors in this Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin comes from using Gruyère as the cheese in this recipe. Gruyère is a type of Swiss cheese with a distinctive, nutty flavor.

Gruyère is, admittedly, more expensive than the Swiss cheese you might buy at the supermarket deli counter, but a little goes a long way. Plus you’ll be rewarded with some really fantastic flavor that goes so nicely with the Tuscan kale and anise-flavored fennel in this dish.

What do I serve with this Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin?

You may enjoy these other Tuscan Kale recipes:

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Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin

Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: American


1 cup cooked white rice *

12 bunches of Tuscan Kale removed from stems and chopped (8 cups) **

2 cups sliced fennel (one large head) **

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ cups sweet onion diced, such as Vidalia

1 ½ tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves

4 whole eggs

¾ cup light cream

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dry mustard

Dash of hot sauce

Few grinds fresh nutmeg

2 cups Gruyere Swiss cheese, shredded (about 6 ounces in weight)

¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil


*If preparing rice from scratch, place ½ cup of white rice in a small sauce pan and add one cup of water. Cover, bring to boil, lower to the lowest heat and let barely simmer covered for 12 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff and cool. Rice should be a bit under cooked. Set aside.

**For Kale, pinch the leaves near the thick end of the stem and pull the leaves down to the end of the stem, keeping your fingers pushed against the stem as you pull down (basically you are pulling the leaves off in one long slide). Discard stems and lay out leaves on top of each other, roll the long way like a tube shape and start slicing slices from one end to the other. Then run the knife through the pile a few times.

Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add kale. Boil for five minutes then drain, discarding water. Set aside.

***For fennel, trim off fronds, leaving bulb. Cut any browned outer edges off and cut the bulb in half from top to bottom. Remove the stem from each half with a sharp knife and discard. Lay a half bulb down on its cut side and begin slicing quarter inch slices from one end to the other. You should finish with 2 cups of sliced fennel.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet or deep heavy bottomed pan or pot over medium to medium high heat and add the three tablespoons of olive oil.

Add onions and fennel and cook, stirring often for five minutes.

Add drained blanched kale and chopped garlic along with dry thyme. Cook stirring often for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. (I poured mine out onto a platter to cool quicker)

In a large bowl, beat eggs, cream, salt, pepper, dry mustard, hot sauce and nutmeg.

Add in grated Swiss and stir to combine.

Stir in cooled rice and cooled kale mixture. If you add while hot, you will have scrambled eggs.

Spray a 10” round, 2” deep baking dish with pan spray and pour in mixture.

In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the top.

Finally drizzle the two tablespoons of olive oil over the top and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to brown and then serve hot.

Keywords: Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin


Kale Fennel & Rice Gratin

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  • Melanie Haymond wrote:

    Can I substitute something for the fresh fennel in this receipe?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Melanie – This recipe calls for 2 cups of fennel so it’s a fairly predominant ingredient in the dish. I suppose you could swap in some celery, onions and leeks although those ingredients won’t give quite the same flavor. Hope that helps!

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