If you make this with frozen spinach, you can cut off half an hour of prep time. Use about 225 grams (1/2 pound). Actually, I think if you buy it, it comes in 10 ounce packets, which, by the time you have squeezed it out should be about right. You will need to thaw it in advance, of course.
I did use frozen spinach, but our fresh spinach planted out and covered with plastic is finally coming along enough that I could have used it. This has been a ridiculously cold spring! However, the plastic makes a huge difference. We seeded spinach and lettuce in the fall, very little of which came up and survived the winter, but an early replanting was successful.
As for this dish, it is a classic. It’s rich and cheesy (especially if you apply the cheese with a heavy hand) enough to be a main dish, but it is often served with steaks. Grilled chicken or fish seems just as appropriate to me, or with the right supporting dishes it could be a vegetarian main dish.
4 to 6 servings
1 hour 15 minutes – 45 minutes prep time
8 to 10 cups packed spinach
1 large onion OR leek
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chicken OR vegetable broth
1 cup whole milk OR light cream
2 tablespoons potato starch OR wheat flour
1 large egg
1 cup grated melty cheese – Cheddar, Friulano, Gouda, brick, etc
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 to 4 tablespoons finely grated dry bread crumbs
Wash the spinach very well, and pick it over of any limp or yellowed leaves and tough stems. Chop it roughly, and steam until wilted. Rinse it in cold water then squeeze it out very thoroughly. Chop it finely. You should have about 1 1/2 to 2 cups when you are done.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a 1 1/2 to 2 quart shallow baking pan.
Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel and mince the garlic.
Heat the butter in a medium-large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring regularly, until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook gently for another minute or two.
Measure the broth and milk, and mix in the potato starch. (If using flour, sprinkle it over the onions and mix in well, until no white is left.) Mix the stock and milk into the onions, stirring well to keep it smooth. Let it cook for several minutes, until thickened. Stir regularly.
Remove the pan from the heat. Mix in the spinach until it is smoothly distributed throughout the sauce. Beat the egg lightly and mix it in. Mix in 2/3 to 3/4 of the first grated cheese. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan and smooth it out evenly.
Mix the remaining grated cheese with the Parmesan and bread crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the spinach. Bake at 375°F for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Last year at this time I made Asparagus & Mushroom Salad with Chervil-Chive Dressing.