Spinach and Garlic Panna Cotta

By Merrill Stubbs
April 19, 2010
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Author Notes: After the nice response to my black tea jelly blog post, I couldn't stop thinking about other creative ways to use gelatin. Then, 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.

So, 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.
Merrill Stubbs

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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