Spinach Gratin

By • March 10, 2010 • 113 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&MThe Editors

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 cups grated Gruyere cheese
  • 3 16 oz. bags of organic, chopped spinach - thawed
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons ground white pepper

Panko topping

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups 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 (113)

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

Comments (113) Questions (5)

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15 days ago ann hill

This is a very nice gratin. I especially appreciated how clearly the directions were written - anyone who follows the instructions will have a great dish. Be sure to use freshly grated nutmeg, it's a perfect complement to the spinach and cheese.

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16 days ago ZaBoo F.

This was DELISH. I used almond milk (what I had on hand), so added a little bit more flour to thicken it up. The almond milk added a slightly nutty flavor that complemented the gruyere without overwhelming the other flavors. Otherwise kept as is!

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16 days ago Lizthechef

Very accomplished - five years have seen so many changes in diets for so many. Glad you could make this work for yours.

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8 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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10 months ago Lizthechef

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

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10 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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10 months ago CailinH

I've made this twice now- sooo tasty!

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10 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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10 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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10 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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10 months ago Mary

How much spinach?

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10 months ago Lizthechef

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

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11 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.

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11 months ago Lizthechef

I always use butter in a Bechamel sauce...

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11 months ago Mady

Can I substitute olive oil instead of the butter?

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12 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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12 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.

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12 months ago Lizthechef

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

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12 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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12 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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12 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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about 1 year ago michael acuna

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

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about 1 year ago Toni

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

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12 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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12 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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about 1 year ago Mary Ellen Weissman

can this be frozen and cooked later?

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about 1 year ago Lizthechef

Sorry, I have never tried that -

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about 1 year ago dwurzel

Thanks! Happy Thanksgiving!

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about 1 year 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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about 1 year 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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about 1 year 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.