Spinach Gratin

By • March 10, 2010 • 110 Comments



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

Comments (110) Questions (5)

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3 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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6 months ago Lizthechef

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

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6 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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6 months ago CailinH

I've made this twice now- sooo tasty!

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6 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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6 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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6 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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6 months ago Mary

How much spinach?

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6 months ago Lizthechef

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

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6 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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6 months ago Lizthechef

I always use butter in a Bechamel sauce...

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6 months ago Mady

Can I substitute olive oil instead of the butter?

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7 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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7 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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8 months ago Lizthechef

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

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8 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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8 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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8 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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8 months ago michael acuna

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

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8 months ago Toni

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

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7 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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7 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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8 months ago Mary Ellen Weissman

can this be frozen and cooked later?

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8 months ago Lizthechef

Sorry, I have never tried that -

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8 months ago dwurzel

Thanks! Happy Thanksgiving!

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8 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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8 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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8 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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8 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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8 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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8 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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8 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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8 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 :)