Monday, March 2, 2009
Recipe: Potato, Spinach and Feta Cheese Gratin
I usually play tennis on Saturday evenings. This past Saturday was no exception. So, while I was on the tennis courts ripping Roger Federeresque forehands past my opponents, my partner was at home preparing one of my favorite vegetarian meals: Potato, Spinach and Feta Cheese Gratin.
This dish, from Jeanne Lemlin's book, "Simple Vegetarian Pleasures," takes about 30 minutes to prepare and 60 minutes to bake. The ingredients are few in number. There are, however, a few time-suck steps in the prepping process, including peeling each potato and blanching the spinach. You could prepare this dish more quickly on a weeknight by opting not to peel the potatoes and using frozen, instead of fresh, spinach (thawed in hot tap water and pressed to remove any liquid). You could also try getting away with baking this dish in the oven for a shorter amount of time than the 1 hour specified in the recipe.
Potato, Spinach and Feta Cheese gratin
Serves approximately 4
10 ounces fresh spinach leaves (washed or bagged) or frozen chopped spinach
Unsalted butter for greasing dish, plus 2 tablespoons cut into small pieces
5 medium-large (2 1/2 pounds) boiling (waxy) potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced (preferably using a food processor a mandoline slicer)
4 ounces feta cheese
2 scallions, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
1 1/4 cups low-fat milk
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the fresh spinach. When spinach turns bright green, about 30 seconds, remove it using a slotted spoon and plunge it in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Press the spinach to remove any liquid and set the spinach aside.
Butter a shallow 9" by 13" glass baking dish. Lay half of the potato slices in the baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Next, top with the spinach, the feta cheese, scallions and dill. Layer the remaining potato slices in the baking dish and pour the milk all over this top layer. Dot this top layer with the small pieces of butter. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Bake another 30 minutes uncovered and serve.
(Tip: I've been purchasing spinach leaves at the supermarket's salad bar. It tends to be less expensive than purchasing bagged spinach.)