As much as I love eating spinach I don’t like all the tedious washing involved to ensure it’s grit and sand free. My normal method for washing spinach is to fill the sink with plenty of cold water, take all the spinach leaves off the stem, place them in the water and give them a good swirl around for a few minutes. Then I turn on the tap and rinse them through the running water as I take them out, squeezing as much excess water from the leaves as I can. I’m tired just writing about it! I maybe the last person on earth to discover this, but frozen spinach is an amazing product! Right up there with frozen peas in my opinion, and sure there are some applications where frozen chopped spinach is not going to be able to replace fresh leaves but in something like this gratin, frozen spinach is perfect and dare I say it even better than fresh. The amount of fresh spinach you would need to make a gratin like this would be ludicrous and you can never really chop the spinach in quite the same way. So finally a spinach dish that can feed a crowd, goes perfectly with a any grilled or roasted meat/poultry, especially steaks, and won’t have you washing, blanching and chopping for hours on end! I can see myself making this very regularly and it would be especially good for holiday meals when you need numerous side dishes that can feed a lot of people.
Ingredients – Serves 4 Adapted from Ina Garten
2 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely diced
1 heaped tablespoon flour
Large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup cream
1 cup milk
750g frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (3 x 250g packages)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Preheat the oven to 200C. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 15 minutes – you want the onions to be very soft. Add the flour and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Add the cream and milk and cook, stirring with a whisk, until thickened.
Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the spinach and add it to the sauce. Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and mix well. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.Transfer the spinach to a baking dish and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and the Gruyere on top. Bake for 20 minutes until golden and bubbly. Serve hot.