Baked Spinach

Every week I struggle to find new recipes to make for several dinner groups I have. This week I needed to take a side dish. As always I refer to my favorite food blogs. I found this baked spinach recipe and had to make it. This dish ended up making a lot less than I initially thought. Who knew 3 lbs of uncooked spinach would end up in such a small dish? Though I had about 10 people over for dinner and we ate all of it, guess people liked it! I used salted butter in the dish, so did not add any additional salt. Next time I will probably add a bit of salt.

As SmittenKitchen suggested I used beef stock instead of cream. I went to Trader Joes to buy a bunch of cheeses, since I was also trying to make PioneerWoman’s Garlic Bread. I could only find baby swiss cheese, I’m not sure this cheese had a milder flavor, but I was expecting the dish to be much cheesier.

Serves 6

3 pounds fresh spinach
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup beef stock
3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons fine, dry breadcrumbs

Stem and wash your spinach (see Tips below) well but no need to spin or pat it dry. Place spinach in a large pot over high heat. Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes for baby spinach and 4 to 6 minutes for regular spinach. Transfer to a colander, immediately fill pot with cold water, transfer it back to the pot of cold water to shock it (stop the cooking) and drain again. Squeeze a small amount of the spinach at a time in your hands to extract as much water as possible. Chop the spinach coarsely. You should have about 3 cups of chopped spinach, or about 1 cup per pound.

Wipe out pot then melt 2 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat and stir in the spinach. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until all of the moisture from the spinach has boiled off — you’ll know you’re done when the spinach begins to stick to the pan.

Lower the heat and sprinkle with flour and stir for 2 minutes to cook the flour. Add 2/3 of your stock or cream, a tiny bit at a time, scraping up any stuck spinach as you do. Once the liquid is added, simmer for another minute or two, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. If you’re feeling especially indulgent, stir in one more tablespoon of butter. If needed, add all or part of remaining liquid. Season with salt (I found 1/2 teaspoon table salt about right) and pepper.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a shallow 1-quart baking dish. Stir 1/2 cup cheese into the spinach and pour it into the baking dish. Mix the remaining cheese with breadcrumbs and sprinkle on spinach. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons remaining butter and pour it over the top. Bake until heated through and slightly brown on the top, about 30 minutes.

Serve with steaks, chops, veal, chicken, broiled fish or, if you’re us, eggs, glorious eggs.

Do ahead: Spinach can be blanched and chopped several hours or a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Gratin can be fully assembled and 30 minutes before needed, placed in a preheated 375 degree oven to bake, then served.

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