by Giles Strong

Bloggers’ block strikes again; here’s a tasty recipe for a spinach and potato bake.

Ingredients

  • ~1 kg potatoes
  • ~250 g spinach
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • ~300 ml cream
  • Nutmeg
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Rosemary
  • ~1 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
  • Cheddar or Parmesan

Method

  1. Set full kettle to boil, then peel and slice potatoes. Aim for about 1 cm thickness. I wrote ~1 kg, but this mainly depends on the size of the baking dish. There will be two layers of potatoes, so filling the dish with a single layer of whole potatoes first should give a reasonably estimate of the quantity required.
  2. Boil potatoes with a pinch of salt for about 10-15 minutes until they are almost cooked; can be pierced easily with a fork, but still offer a bit of resistance. 
  3. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, slice onion into rings and fry with finely chopped garlic, until the onion can easily be broken by a spatula.
  4. Gently heat cream on low heat and stir in the pepper, rosemary, and nutmeg. If the cream is not already sweet you can add a bit of brown sugar, too, or try making the recipe with sweet potatoes instead.
  5. When potatoes are done, drain and rinse to cool them. Try and get rid of as much water as possible.
  6. Layer an oven-proof dish with the potato slices. We’ll add a top layer too, so don’t use them all. Place the spinach leaves on top of the potato layer, then top with the onions.
  7. Place a second layer of potatoes and then pour the cream evenly over it.
  8. Top generously with coarsely grated cheese.
  9. Bake at a suitable temperature until the top is nice and brown. Wish I could be more specific here, but my oven is old and can now only on or off (and unfortunately I have empirical evidence that things cook quicker when it’s turned on…). Should take about 15 minutes, and the temperature is probably around 180-200 degrees Celsius. (N.B.: food may be hot after heating.)
  10. Enjoy!

I’d first made this recipe when I was on secondment in Padova. I’d bought some spinach at a market stall as a substitute for the cabbage in ribollita (a delicious Tuscan soup), and then had some left over. I’d only remembered it a few days ago, but I think I’ll cook it more often now, since it’s cheap, tasty, quick, and nutritious. Would go well accompanied with steamed carrots, cauliflower, or other vegetables. No pictures I’m afraid, I didn’t think about it at the time.