Simple Spinach Gratin

spinach side dish

Provencal spinach gratin sounds a lot more complex than the reality of this très simple dish. This recipe is ridiculously easy and versatile.  We all need those veggie sides that can slide with ease into our dinner plate rotation. I almost didn’t share this recipe, worried that it was too easy and simple to be blog worthy. As I made it for the sixth time in two weeks I realized this fall powerhouse was shout out worthy.

simple french food

I adapted this gratin from Simple French Food by Richard Olney. I have a large collection of cookbooks filling the bookshelves in our family room, but a rotation of current favorites always sit on the kitchen counter tucked between the sugar and flour. Simple French Food has been hanging out there for months. It’s a total classic, originally published in 1974 — a very good year! Any foodie should have this in their collection.

spinach side dish

Back to the recipe, this is basically a healthy one-pot version of spinach gratin — meaning no mixing a roux on the stove. The spinach gets lovely and crispy on the top, soft and flavorful underneath. I would love to say I used the greens from my garden, but ten ounces is a ton of spinach and my garden is not giving that kind of mass at the moment.

kale pie plate

This recipe also works with kale!

I like to use a larger/deep pie plate (like the one pictured above from Emile Henry) or a gratin dish.  I’ve substituted kale for the spinach with great success.  We’ve served it up as straight up side dish, used it as a bed for pork tenderloin, an easy lunch topped with a poached egg and the most popular in my house —used it as stuffing for spinach hand pies.

spinach side dish

Spinach stuffed hand pies.

Simple Spinach Gratin

Makes 4 servings

10 ounces baby organic spinach or baby kale

1/3 cup olive oil (divided)

2 tablespoons of flour

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Coat a large pie plate with olive oil, using about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil— rubbing the oil all around with your fingers. Rough chop your greens. Press half the greens into your dish and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the rest of the greens, this will look like a heap of greens but it will cook down. Sprinkle with flour and evenly coat the top with the rest of the olive oil. Gently pat the top of the mixture so the oil and flour become friends and jive together. Then, season with a bit more salt and pepper. Place in the 450-degree oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes turn down the heat to 375 and continue to cook for 40 more minutes. Serve warm.

spinach side dish

Once the spinach is cooked, it looks prettier out of the pan and scooped onto a plate.

kale side dish

The kale holds up a little better in the pan.

spinach and pork

Dinner is served.

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4 thoughts on “Simple Spinach Gratin”

I’ll have to try this one. I immediately got out my copy and browsed through it. I love that he wrote, “no refinement could improve it.” But it sounds like the kale did. I always liked the chicken with zucchini, cream and tarragon, but it’s a bit rich for this generation. Olney was a brilliant writer, and an interesting character.

Hi Valerie:
Sorry for the late reply to your friendly note. Still on the subject of Olney, I wonder if you’ve read “Provence 1970 ” by Luke Barr. The book really grabbed me last year when I read it after meeting Luke at a signing. It should appeal to any food and wine aficionado. Mr. Barr is M.F.K. Fischer’s grand nephew and he writes about Julia and Paul Child, James Beard and Mary Francis meeting up at Julia’s house in Provence in 1970. RIchard Olney plays a small and not very endearing part.

I hope you get a chance to read this well-researched and fascinating account of these and other interesting characters partying in France.

Taya

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