Spinach Gratin

Wow, it’s been a while since my last post! We were off at our annual mid-winter vacation, then came home and started assembling tax documents (finally!), combined with lots of socializing with family and friends. But now, back to cooking!

Tonight I’m making one of our favorite side dishes, Spinach Gratin. This recipe is modified from one found in the Wall Street Journal last year for chard and sorrel gratin. It’s a bit tough to find sorrel, so I substituted chopped spinach which works rather well. (And for our traditional New Year’s Day good-luck meal, I combined the spinach with collard greens. Quite nice.)

Ingredients are pretty simple: one 16-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach (substitute chopped fresh spinach if you prefer); 2 tablespoons minced shallots; 3 cloves of garlic, crushed; 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese; 1/4 cup grated Parmeggiano-Reggiano cheese; salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste; and 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs. (Not shown: 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil; 2 cups of milk (I used skim but 2% or whole would be fine.)

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Chop the shallots and crush the garlic while the butter (or olive oil) is heating in a large dutch oven-type pan on the stove.

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Put the shallots and garlic in the pan and sauté over low heat until tender.

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Add the spinach all at once and stir.

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Add the milk and stir. Using milk instead of water to gently cook the greens is what makes this recipe different and adds a lovely smooth, mellow taste. At this point, start preheating the oven to 400 degrees, Fahrenheit (about 200 degrees Celsius).

IMG_6512Cover and simmer until the milk is largely absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes.

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Stir in the cheeses, salt, and pepper, then pour into a prepared gratin pan. (By “prepared,” I mean either lightly sprayed with Pam or another cooking spray, or lightly rubbed with oil or shortening.) Sprinkle with the panko crumbs.

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Slide onto the top oven rack and bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the panko turns a lovely golden color. Remove from heat and serve.

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This pairs beautifully with a kissed-by-oak Chardonnay (in other words, not heavily oaked but with lovely caramel overtones). We are serving it with the 2014 King Family Vineyards Chardonnay, aged for 9 months in French oak that’s undergone full malolactic fermentation. An absolutely divine wine. And both the wine and spinach gratin marry beautifully with our main dish, salmon wrapped in phyllo (see the recipe from last year!).

Cheers!

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