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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Potato, Spinach and Feta Gratin (and green bean side)

Holy cow. I can't believe I haven't posted in more than five months. What the heck have I been doing?

I hope my energy for such things has returned, as I am trying to wrest back control of my life from the forces of, well, not evil exactly. But I digress.

Here are a tasty vegetable casserole and a nutty green bean dish that I made this week. You could also use Yukon Gold potatoes. I sometimes substitute thyme for the parsley in the beans, which would be even better piled on a plate next to a roasted or grilled meat or fish. But Joe was content with the high vegetable count. I again rejoice that I married a man who will try anything I feel like cooking.


2 lbs. baking potatoes, about 3 large (or 6 medium red-skinned potatoes)
2 10-oz. boxes chopped, frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
6 to 8 oz. feta cheese
1 1/2 cups half-and-half (low-fat is fine)
3 large eggs (or equivalent amount egg substitute)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 2-quart baking dish, line it with wax paper, and spray the paper lightly.
Peel the potatoes (or not) and thinly slice them crosswise with a food processor fitted with a 2-mm slicing disk or with a mandolin (not the musical kind).
In a kettle of salted boiling water, cook the potatoes for 7 minutes or until just tender and drain in a colander.

Place spinach and feta in food processor. In a bowl whisk together half-and-half, eggs, salt and pepper. Add half the custard to the spinach mixture, and pulse the motor of the processor until the mixture is coarse.
Spread potatoes evenly in baking dish to make a thick layer. Pour the remaining custard over the potatoes, tilting dish slightly and pushing down on the potatoes to distribute the custard. Top with the spinach mixture, smoothing the top. Bake in the middle of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until it is set in the middle (no runny custard).
Let cool on a rack for 2o to 30 minutes (Don't worry, it will still be hot). Run a knife around the side of the dish, invert the gratin onto a flameproof plate, and peel off the wax paper. Broil the gratin under a preheated broiler about 4 inches from the heat for about 5 minutes, or until top is golden brown, and cut into servings.
Serves 6 to 8.
For a treat, top leftover servings with additional cheese such as Havarti or white cheddar before nuking.
Green Beans with Pecans, Lemon and Parsley

also adapted from
2 lbs. green beans, trimmed, halved crosswise, or whole haricots verts*
5 tbsp. butter
3/4 to 1 cup chopped pecans
4 tsp. minced lemon peel (yellow part only)
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves)

Cook beans in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain and pat dry. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Melt butter in large deep skillet or wok over medium heat. Add pecans; sauté until nuts are crisp and butter is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add beans; toss to heat through, about 5 minutes. Mix in lemon peel and parsley; cook 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl.
Serves 6 to 8.

* Skinny green beans with French accent

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