Spinach Gratin

By • March 10, 2010 • 110 Comments

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Author Notes: This gratin is almost always on the buffet for Christmas at our house. A nice substitute for potatoes, it goes well with the beef tenderloin I usually serve. Adjust the salt and pepper to your liking, but the nutmeg is the classic spice to add. Made with less cheese than is traditional, and also without cream, this lighter version demands as great tasting frozen spinach as you can find. It took one truckload of the fresh stuff to convince me that frozen, organic spinach is the only way to go here.Lizthechef

Food52 Review: Creamed spinach with a crunch, Lizthechef's gratin applies a layer of finesse to an age-old comfort food. A fragrant onion bechamel, made savory with a generous addition of Gruyere, envelops chopped spinach in its lush embrace without overwhelming it. We especially love the layer of buttery-crisp, salty panko crowning the top. Pair with some steak, a baked potato and a nice Cabernet, and you've got one heck of a meal. - A&MA&M

Serves 8-10

Gratin

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 3 cups organic whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinches of cayenne
  • 1 and 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 3 16 oz. bags of organic, chopped spinach - thawed
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

Panko topping

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • sea salt, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Squeeze the liquid from the thawed spinach, handful by handful. Set aside.
  3. Heat milk to simmer in saucepan.
  4. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add onions and cook until wilted but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the hot milk and whisk the sauce until it thickens. Add the nutmeg and cayenne. Turn off the heat.
  5. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Taste and correct seasoning. Add the spinach and mix in well.
  6. Pour into a 9X11 glass or ceramic baking dish. Prepare crumb topping.
  7. Melt butter in medium skillet. Add panko, sprinkle with sea salt and stir until lightly toasted. This occurs quite suddenly.
  8. Gently smooth the toasted panko on top of the gratin. Cook for 30-35 minutes until bubbling.
Jump to Comments (110)

Tags: can be made ahead, Holidays, serves a crowd, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Comments (110) Questions (5)

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Wrong_apple

6 months ago sevenfaces

Great recipe. I used Jarslberg as I had it on hand, and it tasted fantastic. If frozen spinach weren't such a pain to squeeze out, I would be eating this every night!

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8 months ago Lizthechef

Garlic and pine nuts for the topping - watch out, I think the garlic would burn...

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8 months ago Kathleen Dixon

This dish sounds lovely. I cannot wait to try it. For more years than I want to admit to, I made a spinach dish in a loaf pan titled Spinach Loaf Bearnaise. A bit time consuming, and definitely would not fit into anyone's idea of a healthy dish. I too tried to make 2 loaves using a wooden crate of fresh spinach. UGH! Washing each leaf was endless. Of course I soon began to use frozen. Your recipe sounds delicious, healthier; and, I cannot wait to try it.

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8 months ago CailinH

I've made this twice now- sooo tasty!

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8 months ago Lizthechef

Sorry, I am a poor consultant for g-f adaptations. Check out my friend at RecipeRenovator. Stephanie will help you.

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8 months ago mknubel

This looks fabulous! With one exception - I need to make a wheat/gluten-free version! What would you substitute for the flour in the sauce? And what would make a suitable substitute topping instead of the panko? Some kind of chopped or slivered nut, perhaps?

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8 months ago i. cristina

Any gf flour blend should work or I've had success with white rice flour for bechamel. For a topping, if you don't want to do gluten free breadcrumbs (I keep a loaf of gf bread in the freezer for such occasions) pine nuts and garlic would make a great crunchy topping for the spinach.

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8 months ago Mary

How much spinach?

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8 months ago Lizthechef

As it says in the recipe, 3 16-ounce bags of frozen spinach, thawed.

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8 months ago Diana Ascarrunz

This recipe tastes better on the second day - I wish I had added more spice when I made this but it was still pretty good.

I ended up using an 8x8 dish and a smaller 3 cup dish I use for dips and it turned out great.

Newliztoqueicon-2

8 months ago Lizthechef

I always use butter in a Bechamel sauce...

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8 months ago Mady

Can I substitute olive oil instead of the butter?

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10 months ago frizz

I can confirm that making this dish with fresh spinach is a disaster. I didn't precook and drain the spinach first, and it made a soupy mess. I'm still eating it with tortilla chips, but it was definitely not the joy I was hoping for. Next time I'll use the frozen stuff!

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10 months ago Lizthechef

I have been there - that's why I warn folks in my head note. Sorry and hope you will try it again.

Newliztoqueicon-2

10 months ago Lizthechef

Do it separately then - whatever makes you feel relaxed and able to enjoy your dinner -

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10 months ago Sheila

I know you have addressed making ahead but was wondering if I make Wed to bring and hour away on T-Day would it be best to carry topping in separate container the top and heat at my sister's? Or is it OK to bring all cooked and just reheat? Thanks! Can't wait to try!

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10 months ago Lizthechef

I would make it TG morning then reheat at your sister's. Or else make it up Wed but do not cook until TG...

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10 months ago Sheila

thanks - I just don't want the panko to get soggy - I want it to look just like yours!!! Happy Thanksgiving.

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10 months ago michael acuna

sounds delicious! i'm going to make it with 1/2 kale. thanks for the recipe.

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10 months ago Toni

I'll be making this next week. Can't wait to taste it!

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10 months ago Toni

I somehow managed to bring home extra finely chopped spinach. I wish I had whined to my mom about the difficulty of squeezing the excess liquid off *before* I was done. She suggested using cheesecloth. Mother always knows best!

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9 months ago LCart

Such a great tip with the cheesecloth! Can't believe I've been squeezing frozen spinach the hard way all this time. What an improvement!

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10 months ago Mary Ellen Weissman

can this be frozen and cooked later?

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10 months ago Lizthechef

Sorry, I have never tried that -

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10 months ago dwurzel

Thanks! Happy Thanksgiving!

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10 months ago dwurzel

This recipe looks great. In terms of making it ahead for Thanksgiving - how much prep is done in advance? What's left to the end besides just baking?

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10 months ago Lizthechef

That's it - you can make the whole dish a day ahead, pop in the fridge and then bake off on TG.

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10 months ago Sabine Gagnon

Yeah, I just made this and thought it was a perfect make-ahead dish! I made it the morning of baking and then just popped it in the oven 30minutes before I wanted it. It came out great.

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10 months ago Sabine Gagnon

Made this last night exactly as directed. It was a HUGE success. My husband and dinner guests raved about it. 'That was one of my favorite things you have made' said the hubby. It's a keeper and going on our Thanksgiving day menu! Thank you for sharing!

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10 months ago Lizthechef

Thanks - I kind of forget about this except when the weather turns cool. Delighted you will enjoy it over TG!

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10 months ago Sabine Gagnon

Hi, this looks absolutely wonderful and I can't wait to make it! It sounds like a perfect Thanksgiving day side. I currently live in Spain and may not be able to get my hungry hands on Gruyere. Is there a substitute cheese you would recommend or have tried?

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10 months ago Lizthechef

I don't know anything about Spanish cheese - ask for a hard cheese with a nutty, rich taste. Be sure to ask for samples before you buy. I did make it once with a white cheddar - very good.

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10 months ago Sabine Gagnon

Thank you! Many have recommended different types of swiss under the 'questions' tab. I will do some more digging and try to find Gruyere somewhere but if not, I'll fall back on the suggested replacements. I may have to make this multiple times with different cheeses to find the best substitute. I can't see anything wrong with that :)

Stringio

11 months ago Nicole Penny

Can this dish be made with fresh spinach rather than frozen / thawed?

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11 months ago Lizthechef

I would not advise it - you will need a truckload of fresh spinach. I always use the frozen.

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over 2 years ago jstew52

Ok, I made this yummy dish again tonight with blanched, shocked, roughly chopped broccoli. Lost of s/p and a splash of sriracha, no nutmeg. Good stuff!

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over 2 years ago jstew52

So good! I'm blessed to live in the bay area. Made half the recipe using goat milk (milked by me) and fresh spinach (<1$/lb) but all of the topping. Delicious!!

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over 2 years ago Lizthechef

Fresh goat milk - you get the prize - glad you enjoyed the recipe.

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over 2 years ago jstew52

So good! I'm blessed to live in the bay area. Made half the recipe using goat milk (milked by me) and fresh spinach (<1$/lb) but all of the topping. Delicious!!

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over 2 years ago Tarragon

Great dish, a real keeper. I used regular, grocery store-brand non-organic frozen spinach - otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. Made it in the am, and about an hour before serving I made the topping, but didn't put the topping on the gratin dish until it was time for the oven. I also halved the recipe successfully. Thanks!

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over 2 years ago Lizthechef

I never tried halving it - nice to know it worked for you. Thanks.

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almost 3 years ago eisenstar

Hi Liz- I was looking for a side dish to take to a Christmas day gathering. This is just the ticket! I will definitely take your advice re: "365" brand of spinach, and gruyere... As far as I'm concerned, in certain baked dishes (quiches,etc), nothing beats gruyere!

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almost 3 years ago Cuk

Lizthechef,

Can one make this recipe ahead of time? If yes, till what point?

Thanks.

Cuk

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almost 3 years ago Lizthechef

Yes, prepare the dish and refrigerate it until baking - a day ahead is OK, but I do it the morning of the dinner.

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almost 3 years ago Cuk

Lizthechef,

Can one make this recipe ahead of time? If yes, till what point?

Thanks.

Cuk

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almost 3 years ago stuchuk

so delish! this came out perfectly. will absolutely make again and again and again!

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almost 3 years ago stuchuk

so delish! this came out perfectly. will absolutely make again and again and again!

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almost 3 years ago enbe

Was looking for a creamed spinach with flair and this was just the ticket. I love the nutmeg + cayenne combo to add depth. Used Swiss since it's impossible to find most cheeses in my area and it tasted delicious. If I can find it, I'll try it next time with gruyere.

Thanks!!

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almost 3 years ago Lizthechef

So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

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almost 3 years ago zoe.d

I've made this a few times now with swiss chard and I absolutely love it. I slice the white bits finely and the green a bit more coarsely and cook them for a while in the sauce before baking. It has all the same creaminess as spinach but with a lovely slightly minerally edge. I've also found that cheaper cheddar plus some parmesan or pecorino make a good substitute if you don't have gruyere.

Thanks so much for this recipe, I could definitely polish off a whole lot of it! :)

Newliztoqueicon-2

almost 3 years ago Lizthechef

Thanks for the tip about substituting swiss chard. I'm working on a twist using roasted butternut squash.

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over 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Made this last night, Liz! It was just wonderful! It was such a perfect comfort dish for a cold night! Thanks!

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over 3 years ago Lizthechef

You are so very welcome - happy you enjoyed it!

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over 3 years ago heidiv

Ok i made this but the cheese for this was way to expensive for me to make. I substituted feta cheese it was so yummy. I tasted the feta first to see the salt content and just did not add any salt. my husband doesn't really care for spinach or feta and he really enjoyed this. I also cut this in half for the 2 of us very easily.

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over 3 years ago Lizthechef

I have wondered if the recipe would work cut in half - thanks for letting me know!

Jill-weddingheaddancing

over 3 years ago jilladavis

This was my first time purchasing frozen spinach. I was thinking frozen spinach? Really? And it was so worth it! Loved this recipe. I may make it again tonight. Yum!

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over 3 years ago Lizthechef

Thanks - it reminds me that my freezer of full of spinach from a cancelled dinner party - so glad you enjoyed it!

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almost 4 years ago Stockout

This recipe did not let me down. It was everything I thought it would be. I love, love, love the crunchy topping and then the soft, creamy and delightfully nutty spinach. I did go with more than a pinch of cayenne and it handled the heat perfectly. I want to thank you Liz for making me eat more than I probably should have but one bite led to another and before I knew it I had carved a huge wedge out of the baking dish before I even sat down to eat......:o) Brava!!!

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almost 4 years ago Lizthechef

It still blows me away to think folks are making my recipes, let alone enjoying them so much! Thank you for making my day - honest!

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almost 4 years ago jifferb

Served this for Thanksgiving - gone in seconds - thanks for the excellent recipe!

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almost 4 years ago Lizthechef

Thanks - nothing makes me happier than to pass along a good recipe!

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almost 4 years ago Queen of Spoons

Just added this to my Thanksgiving menu. Wanted to add another green veg to the menu. I'm sure this one will be popular!

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almost 4 years ago Stockout

I am so making this right after Thanksgiving (my sis-in-law insists on making these awful breaded asparagus spears and I dare not step on her green veggie contribution). I absolutely love that "Stow Fors" Creamed Spinach Souffle (hanging my head in shame) and this looks like I can finally make my own.....and it's easy. I love the addition of Gruyere cheese instead of the ones made with cream cheese.

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almost 4 years ago Lizthechef

Great - please let me know how you like it - and Happy Thanksgiving, breaded asparagus and all ;)

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almost 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

This is so, so good.

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almost 4 years ago Lizthechef

Thanks, Jen - I just made it myself to update the photo for my blog. We promptly wolfed it down...

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over 3 years ago lastnightsdinner

It freezes and reheats beautifully, too! I made a big batch of it a while back and froze half. Thawed it, added the crumb topping and baked, and it was perfect, just as good as the first time!

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almost 4 years ago Stacey Snacks

Just reread the post and see that you used frozen spinach!
Sorry about that!
Thanks,
Stacey

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almost 4 years ago Lizthechef

Definitely frozen!! Under ingredients, I say "3 16 oz bags of organic, chopped spinach - thawed". I like the 365 house brand from Whole Foods. Enjoy the recipe!

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almost 4 years ago Stacey Snacks

Hi Liz,
I am making this for Thanksgiving, and was just wondering, your recipe does not say frozen spinach, but you say to get all the moisture out.
Should I use fresh spinach or frozen?

Thanks!
Stacey

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over 4 years ago bugbitten

bechamel, ladies, bechamel mucho...

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

Note: I omitted adding the flour and cooking it for 2 minutes, after onions has softened in step #4. Gosh, what a goof - sorry...

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over 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Just fixed it!

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over 4 years ago bugbitten

I will definitely make this dish, but maybe not until autumn. I assume you add the flour to the cooked onions for about a extra minute in step four. Otherwise, you don't mention how to use the flour. Thanks!

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over 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks for pointing this out -- just fixed it!

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

You thanking me, that's rich. My friends were wowed by your "meatloaf" at a recent get-together. Now that's a great recipe - but glad the gratin was tasty for your family.

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over 4 years ago thirschfeld

I am going to make this tonight. Can't wait. Love spinach gratins

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

Let me know how the recipe works for you - I value your feedback. Thanks -

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over 4 years ago thirschfeld

The gratin was absolutely everything I wanted it to be. Really liked the contrast of the crunchy Panko topping with the creamy tender spinach. Really nice. Thanks.

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over 4 years ago matthewddsg

We made this yesterday and it was a grand success. This will certainly find its way onto our regular rotation.

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

Delighted to hear that you enjoyed it - thank you!

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over 4 years ago gzalis

Hi Lizthechef....Saw you in Whole Foods today and I could see that you were passionate about cooking good food. This recipe looks great. You've got my vote!

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

Welcome to the food52 community! You made my day, Tracie...Strangers who meet in the produce section - wow!

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

I live in Mission Hills - 295-3535 - stop by, this is an incredible community @food52.

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over 3 years ago OldGrayMare

Mission Hills, KS????? If so....have you ever been to the Kansas City Country Club? Their creamed spinach is legendary....I have been trying to get the recipe for it since I was a toddler. (I have even, only slightly joking, offered to trade sex for it) Unfortunately all my ties to the KCCC are now gone and I have been mourning the loss of the spinach. THIS recipe of yours promises to take its place and be just as memorable, if not more so. Will be making it just as soon as I can get my paws on some proper spinach. Bless you for making this old gray mare feel like a filly again!!

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over 4 years ago Annelle

Love this recipe!

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over 4 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

this is a great recipe! I agree, sometimes frozen organic spinach is definitely the way to go. This will be great to go along with our Easter buffet!

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

Get the best frozen stuff you can find, avoiding the tinny-tasting stuff. My bad photo has disappeared but I finally settled on the stuff at WF...

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over 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

This sounds wonderful! I agree, frozen spinach (aka the incredible shrinking vegetable) is the way to go.

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

This looks so delicious and so comforting. I know I'd arm wrestle both you and LastNightsDinnr for the last spoonful. Congratulations on your recipe being selected!

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over 4 years ago Giulia Melucci

This is exactly what I'm looking for.

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

Now I know I'm dreaming - I have a recipe YOU are looking for?! Thank you -

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over 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Your photo is still there -- just click on the number 3 beneath the photo above!

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over 4 years ago gabrielaskitchen

My good friend, Alyssa, made a very similar butternut squash gratin with Gruyere that was to-die-for! This sounds great with Spinach!

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over 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations--i love this. (you might even convince me to like nutmeg with spinach...)

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

An interesting comment, as I obsessed over the amount to add. I think I used a pretty light touch...

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over 4 years ago shayma

A beautiful medley of flavours, Liz. Gruyere is my fave for gratins. Congrats on being short-listed- congrats to us (am i allowed to say that tee hee) and all of the 'editor's picks'!

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

Happy day, yes?

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over 4 years ago TasteFood

Yum - my favorite kind of comfort food: spinach, gruyere, creaminess and crunch. Congratulations!

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over 4 years ago Jennifer Ann

Another wonderful recipe to try! I really like that you used whole milk, instead of cream or half & half.

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over 4 years ago NakedBeet

What a wonderful alternative to classic potatoes. Congrats Liz!

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over 4 years ago dymnyno

Spinach, egg, milk, gruyere...classic combo I make it all the time using Ann Wilan's recipe. Chez Suzanne entered one too which I made...gorgeous with the cherry tomatoes on top. Congratulations on your version!

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over 4 years ago monkeymom

congrats Lizthechef! Can't wait to try this out.

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over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

This looks wonderful - perfect comfort food! Congrats on being chosen as a finalist!

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

Thank you - frankly, I'm stunned...

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over 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

I love dishes like this - to be honest, I could probably polish off the entire thing myself!

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

It really made a difference when I cut down on the, frankly, fat. Come on over - we can fight over it...

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over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Mmmmm, yum. Sign me up to try this one! I actually like that you use frozen spinach. Although I live in Produce Paradise (Northern California), I've spent a fair bit of time in other places during the winter, mostly for family snowboarding vacations, where the only spinach to be had was tired looking, to put it mildly. Even the stuff in the bags with the gas preservative in them can look sad rather quickly. I love classic recipes that have been improved. Stay tuned . . . . .;o)

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

Please do let me know. You do, indeed, live in produce paradise!