Considering its provenance it was no surprise to me to find that this simple spinach gratin was a success. The inspiration comes from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home, whose author is the winner of multiple Michelin stars as well as the prize for Best Chef in America. Keller’s restaurant, French Laundry, has also won Best Restaurant In The World.
I’m not quite sure what makes the spinach puff a little – it may just be steam – but the milk and cheese make the spinach rich and creamy, so it goes well with steak, and also breaded dishes such as a Wiener Schnitzel; or Golden Breaded and Smoked Haddock.
You can prepare this dish, keep it in the fridge for a day or so, and then cook at the last minute.
Recipe for light as a soufflé spinach in a cheese sauce
- 50g/2 oz butter
- 1 banana shallot
- 800g/1 lb 12 oz baby spinach
- 350g/1½ cups fresh cheese sauce (aka Mornay sauce – go here to find out how to easily make this for yourself)
- 110g/½ cup Comté cheese – or you could try an Irish Coolea (with flavours of butterscotch, walnut and cream)
- smoked salt, freshly ground black pepper, a couple of grinds of nutmeg
- Gently melt half the butter in a large, flat-bottomed wok.
- Peel and chop the shallot, and add half to the wok.
- Add a couple of handfuls of spinach, stir in, and wilt. Continue until about half the spinach has been added to the wok. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Allow to cook for four or five minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 210ºC.
- Take out and put into a large sieve, allow to drain, while you cook the remaining shallot and spinach in exactly the same way. Drain this too.
- Meanwhile grate the cheese.
- Mix the cheese sauce into the spinach and put it into an ovenproof dish of some kind.
- Cook until bubbling and golden – 5-10 minutes.