Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sweet Potato & Kale Gratin (Whole30 Day 8)

Phew!  Posting every single day is starting to get very exhausting!  

Don't get me wrong--I love to dream up recipes, cook, take pictures, and then write about it.  It's just that somehow I find myself on the couch each evening around 11, realizing there is so much work left to do!  Yesterday's post (a roundup of 7 paleo blogs I love, in case you missed it) went up at 11:59 pm.  It always takes a little bit of pressure to actually get my nose to the grindstone.

I think that since it's 10:58 right now, and I already have the photos and the recipe all set, I should be getting this one up a little earlier.

But before I hit "publish", though, let me tell you about this good-looking gratin!

Ben and I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time this year, and eight people came!  I made this delicious sweet potato & kale gratin with a vegetarian guest in mind, but it ended up being one of my favorite things at the table.  It's kind of been stuck in my head ever since.  But, we're talking about a gratin that's packed with butter, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese.  A Whole30-er can only dream.

I thought I could recreate the effect by making a sauce like this: a whole head of roasted garlic, blitzed to creamy perfection with a bunch of coconut milk and a little stock.  Because roasted garlic is not cheese, but it's pretty much the next best thing.

And guess what?  It worked!  I love this gratin just as much, if not more because it's paleo and vegan-friendly.  It doesn't hold together quite as well as its cheesy counterpart, so it won't be a neat square when you serve it, but it's really delicious.  A delicious I can feel good about.

Just in case you're wondering, it didn't taste like coconut to me.  It also didn't taste extremely garlicky, since roasted garlic is so mellow--those two ingredients just serve to make you feel like you're eating something really creamy and savory.  It's like creamed spinach, but with kale, in the middle of a sweet potato sandwich.

I used half light-colored sweet potatoes (they're called Hannah yams and I got them at Whole Foods) and half regular orange ones so I could make this fun color pattern.  Then, the camera ran out of batteries and the sun was quickly setting, so I cut my losses and sat down to enjoy a big piece.  That's why there aren't any photos of the sliced gratin--I ate it, twilight fell, and there were no batteries to be found anywhere.  It's okay, though, because no one can be sad while they're eating gratin.  It's a thing.  Make some and you'll see!

Sweet Potato & Kale Gratin (adapted from Oh My Veggies)
Yield: 8 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes


For the roasted garlic*:

1 head garlic
1/2 teaspoon olive oil

For the gratin:

4 tablespoons ghee (melted) or olive oil, divided
1 bunch kale, tough stems removed, chopped
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/8" thick rounds
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 and 1/2 cups coconut milk (one 14.5 ounce can)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

*To decrease prep time, you can roast the garlic a day or two ahead of time and stash it in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 400.  Cut the top off the head of garlic so the tops of all the cloves are exposed, and drizzle the cut side with the olive oil.  Wrap the head in tinfoil and place it right on your oven rack.  Roast for about 45 minutes, or until the cloves are very soft when squeezed or pierced with a fork (your garlic should like the picture above).  Let cool for a few minutes, then squeeze each clove out of its peel and set aside in a medium bowl.

Meanwhile, steam the kale until wilted, 2-3 minutes.  You can use a metal strainer set over a saucepan of similar size if you don't have a steamer.  Put an inch or two of water in the saucepan, bring it to a boil, set the strainer with the kale on top, and cover.  When the kale is wilted, set it aside to cool.

Leave the oven at 400, and grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13" glass baking dish with two tablespoons of the ghee or olive oil.

Layer half the sweet potato slices in the bottom of the baking dish in overlapping rows.  Squeeze the excess water from the kale and sprinkle it evenly on top of the sweet potatoes.  Top with a little salt & pepper.  Layer the remaining sweet potato slices on top of the kale.

Add the coconut milk, stock, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to the bowl with the roasted garlic.  Process with an immersion blender (or transfer to your regular blender to puree) until smooth.  Pour the sauce evenly over the potatoes, and drizzle the remaining two tablespoons of ghee or oil on top.

Cover the dish with tinfoil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove the tinfoil and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender.  If you'd like to brown the top of your gratin a little more, set the oven to broil and place the gratin in the broiler for 1-2 minutes (don't walk away!).  Let the gratin sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Want more Whole30 tips & recipes?  Come back for a new post everyday this month, and check out these previous posts:
For even more paleo recipes, check out these Whole30 posts from my archives or my Whole30 Pinterest board.  Also, follow me on Instagram to see pics of what I'm eating throughout my Whole30.


  1. This looks absolutely fabulous! Have you calculated calories, fat, and the like? It seems super healthy and great nutrition. Will definitely have to try this soon.

    1. Thanks, Jen! It is really good. I don't calculate nutrition info, but this one is probably not low-fat because of the ghee and coconut milk (although you could probably use light coconut milk and cut it down some). It is definitely packed with nutrition from the sweet potatoes, kale, and garlic, though! :)

  2. Hi Becky! I made this tonight and it was delicious! It had a lot of steps, but with some practice, I think I can get the prep time down. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    1. Thanks, Cathy! I'm so glad you liked it. It is a bit involved, but worth it in the end :). Since my boyfriend doesn't like sweet potatoes, I got to eat all the leftovers was delicious heated up the next day for breakfast, too!

  3. Hey, I'm planning on making 2 of these tomorrow, and bringing one for my Thanksgiving dish! What kind of Kale did you use? Thanks!

    1. I usually use green curly kale, but any kind should work. Enjoy and happy thanksgiving!


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