Creamed spinach au gratin ほうれん草のグラタン

japanese cake
One weekend, we were planning to make spinach soufflé. My wife prepared a package of spinach for this but somehow we ran out of time and decided to make the souffle later.  But it is basically not feasible to make soufflé on weekday evenings. Almost one week passed after my wife cooked the spinach and there was still no souffle. Before the spinach went bad, we decided to just make creamed spinach. As a consolation prize, I decided to make it slightly more interesting by adding panko crust mixed with Parmesan cheese and calling it “au gratin“.

The amount of two small servings seen above.

Spinach: The package of baby spinach (about 10 oz) was cooked without additional water in a tightly lidded pan for 4-5 minutes or until wilted mixing twice of three time during the cooking. I squeezed out the excess moisture and cut into small (1/2 inch) pieces.

Béchamel sauce: I finely chopped a shallot (one, medium). I then sauteed it in a frying pan with olive oil (2 tbs) and butter (1 tbs). I sprinkled in AP flour (about 3-4 tbs) and sauteed it for few minutes until the flour coated all the shallot pieces and got sort of wet. If you use more fat, it will be easier to make the sauce but with the flour coating the individual pieces of shallot, you can make Béchamel with much less fat. I initially added milk (1%, one cup) all at once and mixed using a silicon spatula. After the sauce thickened, If needed, I add more milk to adjust the consistency. I seasoned it with salt, white pepper and nutmeg (both freshly ground). I then added shredded aged cheddar cheese (about 1/2 cup) and the spinach.

Bread crumbs: I used Japanese panko crumbs (about 1/4 cup or more), added good olive oil (about 2 tbs) and mixed the oil and crumbs by rubbing the crumbs between my finger tips. I also mixed in grated Parmigiano Reggiano (about 3-4 tbs), You could add more on the top of the crumb layer before baking.

Assembly: I divided the creamed spinach into two small flat ramekins and spread the bread crumbs on top. I baked them at 400F in a preheated toaster oven for 7-10 minutes or until the crumbs were golden brown.

This is not as good as spinach soufflé but much more interesting than a simple creamed spinach. We had this as a drinking snack but this will be perfect with toast points or small baguette rounds.

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