Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Caramelized Onions & Baby Swiss

8 Comments 09 November 2012

The search for What to Cook for Thanksgiving has begun here at Full Fork Ahead. Last year we made some killer creamed corn and a to-die-for herb-and-leek bread pudding. We even made a really easy rolled and stuffed turkey breast that’s perfect for those looking to cook for fewer folks. There’s some surprisingly wonderful red onions stuffed with sausage. If you’d like more ideas on things we’ve cooked in the past, this idea post might help. For now, though, it’s a new year, and we just love coming up with new ideas that wow the taste buds. Luckily for us, that new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook has plenty to offer for the upcoming holidays.

Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Caramelized Onions & Baby Swiss 15

Honestly, I don’t cook with wild rice all that often because it’s a little on the expensive side. But that’s why we enjoy the holidays a little more; we get to make the things that we wouldn’t as often other times. It’s well worth it with this recipe, too, trust me.

Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Caramelized Onions & Baby Swiss 14

We were kale newbs, the sis blogging partner and I, until this recipe. We are now unabashed fans. I can’t wait to use it again one day. In a soup maybe – in a pot! We will eat it quite a lot.

Aaaand that’s enough Dr. Seuss-esque-ness for today. Not sure where that came from.

Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Caramelized Onions & Baby Swiss 13

I know what you’re thinking – those onions could be caramelized a lot more. I totally agree. There’s all sorts of similar directions to what’s in the recipe for caramelizing onions, and I even stirred these suckers for ten extra minutes, forty total, and they were still rather pale and un-caramelized-looking. But they did taste good. Moving the heck on!

Do pick out bits of kale to try. Then try to not pick any more. It needs to go in this awesome dish, you know. It’ll be hard, kale is fantastic.

Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Caramelized Onions & Baby Swiss 12

The onions, kale and wild rice, which I cooked ahead of time, are combined in a large bowl with a cup of grated baby Swiss cheese. You know what comes next, right? That’s right – I’m going to add more cheese in with this step next time.

I know, I know, there’s another layer of Swiss atop all this in the pan, but it needed a little more amidst all the other goodies. In my opinion. Feel free to not follow my really bad, cheesy lead.

Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Caramelized Onions & Baby Swiss 11

In the pan, before the layer of Swiss on top add a little chicken broth.

Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Caramelized Onions & Baby Swiss 10

Okay, there’s the rest of the baby Swiss. Mmmmm, I can’t help it, must have MORE.

Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Caramelized Onions & Baby Swiss 9

Over the top of it all goes a layer of bread crumbs. We ended up using panko since that’s what I had in the pantry, and I wasn’t in the mood to make my own.

Just use the panko, m’kay? Its such a nice crisp contrast to the rest of this dish. I dunno what else to say other than if you don’t, don’t say we didn’t tell you so.

Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Caramelized Onions & Baby Swiss 2

Maybe it’s because we only sauteed the kale in with the onions till it was just wilted, but I was relieved it wasn’t pure green mush in this absolutely fantastic gratin. Despite some butter in the bread crumbs and the cheese, this all tastes wonderfully light. Sis blogging partner said the kale tastes like a cross between brussels sprouts and spinach, which I instantly agreed with. Together with the cheese, onions, rice and that crisp topping – this is simply to die for. There’s no other way to put it. Move over broccoli rice casserole! There’s a new rice casserole in town and it’s day is here.

Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Caramelized Onions & Baby Swiss

from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook time: About 1 hour, 40 minutes    Level: Easy    Serves: 8

For the rice:

  • 5 cups cooked wild rice (from 1 2/3 cups, 10.5 ounces or 300 grams)

For the caramelized onions:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups stemmed, ribboned kale leaves (from an 8-ounce or 225-gram bundle)

For the assembly:

  • 2 cups (8 ounces or 225 grams) coarsely grated Emmentaler or another Swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 to grease dish, 1 melted for crumbs)
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (60 grams) fine, dry breadcrumbs
  • Table salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the rice according to package directions.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Meanwhile, caramelize the onions. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions, sprinkle with salt and a little pepper, and cook until they’re tender and sweet, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Add the kale ribbons, and cook until they wilt a bit, about 5 minutes. Stir together the onion-kale mixture, wild rice, and 1 cup grated cheese in a large bowl. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Assemble the gratin. Use 1 tablespoon butter to generously coat a 2-quart baking dish. Spread the wild-rice mixture into prepared gratin and pour broth over it. Sprinkle remaining cheese over gratin. Toss breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon melted butter and salt and pepper to taste; sprinkle over cheese.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a little bubbly and beginning to brown on top.


You could also use cooking spray to grease your pan.

I wanted to cook mine the whole time needed, so when it started to brown more than needed, I covered it with foil the last several minutes.

The cook suggested this serves 10-12 as a side, but I think that’s really stretching it. I feel as if it would serve 8 at the most if you’re not serving much else with your main dish.

If you’d like to make this for Thanksgiving, you can do some steps ahead of time, say, the day before, like cooking the wild rice and caramelizing the onions. Go ahead and combine them in a air-tight container and refrigerate till the next day. Boom, you’ve got the most time-consuming part done. Wilt the kale the next day, add it to the rice and onions, cheese and so on and you’re on your way.

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- who has written 347 posts on Full Fork Ahead.

Wife, mom, indulgent reader and Day Job Do-er, who occasionally likes to think she can cook. Sometimes she's right, sometimes she's wrong.

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Your Comments

8 Comments so far

  1. jaci says:

    Loved this! Added my own touch with goat cheese with herbs instead of swiss and a small handful of dried cranberries to add just a touch of sweetness to the kale. Yum!

  2. Susan says:

    I have a question about this recipe. Did you use a wild rice mixture, or did you use pure wild rice?

    • KMont says:

      Unfortunately it’s been a while since I cooked this so I’m not exactly sure. I did cook the rice ahead of time so it’s likely this was pure wild rice. You could probably get away with a mixture if you had to, though. I would just be aware of any possible added salt in it and adjust what salt you add, if any. Hope that helps!


  1. Perfectly seasonal: An interview with Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman | Grist - November 19, 2012

    […] just the idea of things baking together and getting crisp at the edges. One of my favorites a wild rice gratin with kale and caramelized onion. It tastes crazy indulgent, but it’s not. It would be an easy one to make a couple of days before […]

  2. 24 ways to enjoy spring kale | Fall Line Farms - May 24, 2014

    […] Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Onions and Baby Swiss […]

  3. CSA Adventures – October Week 4 | Soul Munchies - October 27, 2014

    […] Kale & Wild Rice Gratin […]

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