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Spinach and Garlic Panna Cotta

March 16, 2010

- Merrill

After the nice response to my black tea jelly post the other week, I couldn't stop thinking about other creative ways to use gelatin. Then this weekend, prompted by two of our recent recipe themes (Your Best Spinach Recipe and Your Best Italian Dessert), I found inspiration. Why not try a savory panna cotta, infused with garlic and bay leaf and tinted with puréed spinach? I once made a tomato panna cotta for my final exam in cooking school, and it was a miserable failure, splitting because of all the acid. But I knew I wouldn't encounter that same roadblock with spinach.

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So, on Sunday evening I got to work and this time was lucky enough to meet with success. Don't be fooled by the name of this dish: it's unapologetically rich, and merely "scented," as Amanda pointed out, with spinach. This panna cotta is not intended to serve as one of your 6 to 8 recommended daily fruits and vegetables. But it will win over your guests with its delicate, pale green hue, its creamy, garlicky flavor, and its seductive jiggle. I plan to serve it next alongside herbed leg of lamb and the first asparagus of the season. I hope you enjoy it!

Spinach and Garlic Scented Panna Cotta

Serves 4

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 fat clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup packed frozen or freshly cooked chopped spinach (thawed if frozen and as much water squeezed out as you can)
  • Large pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 packet (2 teaspoons) powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
1. Combine cream, 1/2 cup milk, garlic and bay leaf and bring to a boil over medium low heat. When it just starts to simmer, turn off the heat and let infuse for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Combine 3/4 cup milk, spinach and nutmeg in a blender and blitz until smooth. Put the remaining 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the top and let it soften for about 5 minutes.
3. Stir the gelatin and milk into the infused cream and gently reheat over a low flame, stirring constantly, until the gelatin is dissolved. Stir in the spinach mixture, salt and ground pepper to taste. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to get all of the liquid, and pour into 4 ramekins. Refrigerate for several hours, until set. To unmold, dip the ramekins in a bowl of hot water for about 10 seconds and turn each panna cotta onto its own plate.
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Mo G. July 16, 2013
I am delighted to have found this recipe! It will be perfect with a stuffed pork roast I am planning for this weekend. One question: can it be made ahead, say a day before?
RaquelG March 22, 2010
Merrill, so beautiful! Now thinking about possible variations such as half basil, half spinach... or even mint/spinach to go with your leg of lamb!
coffeefoodwrite March 21, 2010
Wow! This looks incredible and so very original and inventive. Looking forward to trying it!
Denise March 21, 2010
This is so beautiful! I love the idea of a savory panna cotta. Thanks.
chrisw March 21, 2010
My daughter and I make sport of rating panna cotta offerings wherever we encounter them - usually as dessert. But, panna cotta in any guise is most welcome and we will take great pleasure in giving this inspired version a whirl - thank you for expanding our horizons!!
Veronica March 17, 2010
So, so beautiful! If I were more organized I'd have added this luscious looking treat to our St. Patrick's day fare of ho-hum (looking) corned beef and cabbage tonight. The wonderfully green, silky and wobbly would have been the the MOST welcome addition. Maybe this weekend? Thank you, Merrill!
Merrill S. March 18, 2010
You're welcome!
Aliwaks March 17, 2010
Merrill, is it weird that I want to rest my cheek against that panna cotta? It looks so marvelously cool and silky.
Merrill S. March 18, 2010
Not weird at all. Although I wouldn't recommend it.
Rhonda35 March 17, 2010
Sounds wonderful! Now, if only I could get someone to consider my "jiggle" seductive! ;-)
Merrill S. March 18, 2010
You said it, sister.
MrsWheelbarrow March 16, 2010
I can't help but think how fun this could be in one of the old jello molds I have from my grandmothers. Imagine a two tiered star shaped green panna cotta. And it's St. Patrick's Day, too! Thanks, Merrill.
Merrill S. March 18, 2010
You're welcome. I should have tried it in one of my antique molds, but I was afraid it would stick and we wouldn't get a photo!
shayma March 16, 2010
that looks like a jade jewel i want to put around my neck! (and then eat).
Merrill S. March 16, 2010
What great imagery.
dymnyno March 16, 2010
This sounds perfect for a Spring menu! I have to admit the ingredient "gelatin" has always put me off. I think it's time to dive into this one.
Merrill S. March 16, 2010
If you do dive in, let me know how it goes!
Lizthechef March 16, 2010
Perfect for my next spring dinner party. If only the little devils slide out of their ramekins...
Merrill S. March 16, 2010
If you dip them in hot water before you turn them out, these shouldn't give you any trouble.
Kelsey B. March 16, 2010
I LOVE the color of it, so bright and pretty. This new obsession reminds of that Colwin essay, "Desserts that Quiver."
Merrill S. March 16, 2010
Love Laurie Colwin. Will have to revisit that one.
CatherineTornow March 16, 2010
The seductive jiggle hooked me. I've been wanting to try panna cotta for some time, and this looks like the perfect one.
Merrill S. March 16, 2010
mrslarkin March 16, 2010
So pretty! Thanks, Merrill.
Merrill S. March 16, 2010
You're welcome!
lastnightsdinner March 16, 2010
Oh, fun! I played a little with savory custards last summer, so I will definitely have to give this panna cotta a whirl.
Merrill S. March 16, 2010
Hope you like it! Let me know.