This is my take on the old-fashioned creamed spinach. I love turning it into a decadent gratin that is made even more delicious with the addition of béchamel. It’s the perfect side to roast chicken or fish.
- 1.5 kg English spinach (4–5 bunches)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 20 g butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 250 ml (1 cup) thickened cream
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- pinch of cayenne pepper, plus extra for sprinkling
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- salt flakes
- 80 g Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
- 50 g panko breadcrumbs
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Cut 6 cm off the spinach stalks – it’s okay if there is some stalk left. Wash the spinach very well, then drain.
2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the spinach, a handful at a time, so it all fits in the pan. Bring back to the boil and cook for 1 minute. Drain in a colander and set aside to cool. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as possible.
3. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
4. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil and the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5–8 minutes until softened with no colour. Add the cream and bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring frequently, until thick and reduced by a third. Stir in the mustard and cook for a further 1 minute. Remove from the heat, season with the cayenne pepper, nutmeg and a pinch of salt and add half the cheese.
5. Add the spinach to the cream sauce and fold through.
6. Mix the remaining cheese with the breadcrumbs and use your hands to rub in the remaining oil.
7. Spread the spinach mixture evenly into a 1.5 litre gratin dish. Top with the breadcrumb mixture and an extra pinch of cayenne and bake for 20–25 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Recipe from The Weeknight Cookbook by Justine Schofield (Plum, $34.99), Photography by Jeremy Simons.