Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cream Spinach Au Gratin

This sexy little side dish is stunning when served in individual casserole dishes. As my son Jon describes, “This is like creamed spinach on steroids!” He has a point……

1 (20-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach (you can substitute with fresh spinach leaves. See note below)
3 tablespoons organic butter, divided
2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated, about ½ cup
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated, about ¼ cup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the spinach in the microwave. Drain in a colander and use paper towels to press out excess moisture.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a pot over medium heat until melted. Stir in the flour and cook until the mixture begins to bubble. Pour in the milk and stir until the sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the Gruyere cheese and cook until melted. Remove the sauce from the heat.

Place the spinach into a bowl. Pour in half of the sauce and stir. Pour in the remaining sauce and stir once more. Pour the spinach mixture into a casserole dish. Top the spinach mixture with Parmesan cheese. Dot the top with the remaining butter and sprinkle with a bit of paprika. Cook until the casserole is golden on the top and bubbling, about 10 to 12 minutes (depending on the size of the casserole dish).

Servings: 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 to 12 minutes

Sources and Substitutions
1 pound fresh spinach will cook down to the same amount as 10 ounces cooked frozen spinach. For this recipe, you will need 2 pounds of fresh spinach, chopped which will be about 8 cups. If you are choosing fresh spinach, steam the spinach in a microwave oven or in a steamer over boiling water. Drain as directed above.)

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