Our Spinach Gratin starts out as many of our recipes do. I check the fridge’s vegetable drawer, spot one bag of baby spinach approaching the sell date and next to it is a one-half carton of Portabella mushrooms losing their freshness battle.
“What are we having with the grilled chicken?” asks Honey entering the kitchen.
“Spinach with mushrooms,” I answer.
“Sautéed garlic spinach and mushrooms, again?”
Necessity the mother of invention
I hand him the spinach, mushrooms, and close the refrigerator door. “Nope,” I say. “I . . . uhh . . . want to try something new.” My mind is frantically trying to come up with some recipe. ” Like . . . uhh . . . Baked Spinach Gratin!”
“Is this a blog recipe?”
“Well, if the spinach gratin turns out, I’ll post it.”
“Do you have a recipe for it?” he asks.
“Kinda,” I hedge. “Julia Child, I know she has a recipe I can use. How can I possibly go wrong with the queen of cooking by my side?”
Modify the spinach gratin ingredients
I check out the recipe, and to my dismay, find that it calls for regular spinach, shallots, milk, cream cheese, and Gruyere cheese. Drat! I don’t have any of those ingredients. *sigh* It’s late in the day, and most of that time I spent on my photography assignment. Well, it looks like I’ll have to implement a”Plan B.”
I decide to use Parmesan cheese instead of the Gruyere; we always have the parm on hand. Instead of the milk or cream cheese, I figure I can substitute chicken stock for the milk and cream cheese, then thicken the liquid with flour.
Instead of the shallots, another ingredient I didn’t have, I can use minced onion. At least I do have the butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Julia doesn’t use mushrooms, but this dish will have some. Now if you don’t like mushrooms, don’t add them.
Streamline the directions for spinach gratin
The Julia Child recipe calls for 3 pounds of fresh spinach with the stems removed. What I have is one pound of baby spinach. Now, the original directions call for:
- blanch the spinach until it wilts
- transfer the greens to a colander
- rinse in cold water
- drain the liquid from the spinach
- squeeze the spinach to extract as much liquid as possible from it
- chop the leaves
Whew!! That is six too many steps for me. Instead, I decide to make the spinach gratin like I make my garlic spinach. I sauteé the garlic and onion. Then I add the mushrooms until they turn a golden brown. Finally, I add the baby spinach, pour a little of the chicken broth in the pan and cover it with a lid.
Isn’t that much easier? No colander and pot to clean up. 🙂
Finish the spinach gratin in the oven
Before pouring the mixture into a buttered gratin dish or glass casserole, I stir in some of the Parmesan cheese. I sprinkle the parmesan panko crumbs on top of the spinach and bake in a 375 degrees oven for 30 minutes. The spinach was the best we’ve ever eaten. We hope you think so too.
By the way, this is one of the photos I captured that day. Honey challenged our grandsons to identify what they are, even said he’d give them $5.00 if they could name them. He lost. 🙂
Tutti a tavola è pronto!
Un caro saluto e alla prossima.
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The Best Baked Spinach Gratin — A Streamlined Julia Child Recipe
- 1 pound baby spinach
- 1 cup sliced Bella mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1/3 cup onion diced
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
- dash of nutmeg
- 1/4 cup+ 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese divided
- 1/4 cup Panko crumbs
- In a deep saute pan heat the olive oil and 1 1/2 Tablespoon butter over medium high heat. Sauté the onion until translucent about 2 minutes then add the garlic, hot pepper flakes and cook for another minute.
- Add the mushrooms, stir and continue to sauté until they begin to turn golden.
- Slowly add the spinach leaves until they begin to wilt. Add 1/4 cup of the broth, add salt and pepper to taste, cover the pan with lid, and cook over medium heat.
- Once the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes, uncover and continue to stir. Don't let all of the moisture evaporate. You may have to add a little bit of water.
- In the remaining 1/4 cup chicken broth whisk in the flour until it's dissolved.
- Slowly pour the broth over the spinach and mushrooms and continue to stir until thick. Add a dash of nutmeg.
- Stir in 2 Tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese.
- Pour the mixture into a buttered gratin pan or glass casserole.
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- In a bowl mix the Panko crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Melt the remaining butter and add that to the topping and mix well.
- Sprinkle the topping evenly over the spinach gratin.
- Bake until heated through and slightly golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.
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