Creamed Kale with Bacon Béchamel

From Julie Van Rosendaal

2012 Nov/Dec

Kale and bacon are a magical combination – the drippings from the latter cook down and flavour the former. A quick béchamel (white) sauce transforms this duo into a dish similar to creamed spinach, only better. Inspired by Gourmet magazine.


  • 4 – 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1-1/2 c. milk
  • 2 T. minced shallot or onion (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 6 black peppercorns (optional)
  • 1 large bunch kale or beet greens
  • canola or olive oil or butter, for cooking
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch red chile flakes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large, heavy skillet, cook the bacon until crisp over medium-high heat; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve the bacon fat.

To make the béchamel, whisk the flour into the bacon fat. Whisk in the milk, and if using them, the shallot, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking often. Let it simmer for a few minutes, and then pour it into a bowl and reserve. If you added the bay leaf and peppercorns, scoop them out or pour the mixture through a sieve. Wipe out the pan.

Roughly chop the greens, ditching the tough ribs. Heat a drizzle of oil and/or butter in the pan and sauté the onion over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, until soft and starting to turn golden. Add the kale (or beet greens) and cook it until it starts to wilt. Add the cream, garlic, chile flakes and béchamel, and stir to combine well. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the greens are tender. Season the dish with salt and pepper and serve with the cooked bacon scattered on top. Serves 4 to 6.