Now that the weather in Austin has finally decided to lean towards winter, this baked spinach has become the default side dish in my house. Despite tasting like a lot of time and calories have been spent on it, it's one of the easiest pantry dishes I know and is perhaps the most virtuous version of baked spinach to ever grace a dinner plate. It makes even a dreary Monday night feel special.
I've adapted this twice, once from Julia Child's creamed spinach from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and the second time from Deb's adaptation of the former recipe. Deb uses fresh spinach, but as I promised this was a pantry recipe, frozen spinach is what I call for here. There's no cream in it and only a small amount of butter, and you can use whatever cheese you have on hand. This recipe is endlessly forgiving and will make your dinner guests suspect you might be a wizard.
easy baked spinach
serves 4 as a side dish
- 1 16 oz. bag frozen spinach
- 1-2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup stock (I prefer chicken)
- 1 handful cheese of your choice (I like grated white cheddar, chevre, manchego, gruyere, or even feta or cotija)
- fresh nutmeg, finely grated
- parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 4 Tbsp panko bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 375 F. In a medium skillet, add the frozen spinach and heat over medium until the spinach is no longer frozen and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt, stirring it through the spinach. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the surface of the spinach, and stir with a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes, until the spinach has thickened and the flour has been slightly cooked. Add the stock and stir, cooking for another minute or two. Stir in a handful or two of your chosen cheese and remove from heat.
Pour the spinach into a buttered gratin or baking dish, grate a sprinkling of nutmeg on top, then top with a sprinkling of parmesan and panko. Drizzle with olive oil (or melted butter, if you feel like taking an extra step) and bake for 15-20 minutes, until bubbly and starting to brown. Turn the broiler on for a few minutes at the very end to finish browning the top, and serve.