Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spinach, Ham, Potato Gratin

It was a cool, rainy day yesterday. The house needed some home cooking to warm things up. Choosing from my list of preplanned weekly meals, I decided on a new gratin recipe.

We've had gratins before, some were good while others left something to be desired. Recalling some of our previous gratins I made a small change to this recipe before I even started. It turned out to be a good decision.

I added some cheddar cheese between the inner layers of spinach and ham. Other gratins don't do this and lack flavor. At least for Jon and I.

Something I often do when I am baking with milk is to substitute part of the milk for sour cream. For example, I needed 2 cups of milk for the gratin, but the recipe calls for 2%. I don't use any milk other than skim. I am lactose intolerant and the extra cream/fat makes it even more difficult for me to break down the lactose (the sugars and enzymes found in dairy products). So something I learned a long time ago by trial and error is to mix nonfat milk and nonfat sour cream or plain yogurt. It gives me the same creaminess of 2% milk without the side effects. So for this recipe, I used 1 3/4 cup skim milk and enough sour cream to make 2 cups. Mix with a whisk and presto! Skim milk with a 2% feel.

This particular gratin reminds me of my mom's spinach and ham lasagna, which is one of my favorites! Spinach, ham, white sauce, lasagna noodles, and mozzarella. Can you really go wrong there? Uh, no.

This recipe is from the side dish section of my cookbook. But, we served the gratin as a stand alone meal with some fresh tomatoes. So what you see above is actually two servings. Very filling servings I might add.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Spinach, Ham, and Potato Gratin
Serves 8
240 calories per

1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped reduced-fat ham (about 4 ounces)
1 tsp salt, divided
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/8 tsp grated whole nutmeg
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
2 cups skim milk*
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
7 cups(1/8-inch-thick) slices Yukon gold potato (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese**
Cooking spray
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 375°.

Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in ham, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, nutmeg, and spinach.

Combine milk, flour, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/4 tsp salt, stirring with a whisk.

Arrange half of potato slices in an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt.

Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheddar cheese. Spread spinach mixture over potato slices and cheese. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheddar cheese over the spinach.

Arrange remaining potato slices over spinach mixture; pour milk mixture over top. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Cover with foil coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 375° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Uncover and sprinkle with Swiss cheese; bake an additional 15 minutes.

Preheat broiler.

Broil gratin for 2 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.

Allow to set for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.

* Original recipe calls for 2% milk
**Not included in original recipe, calorie count was adjusted to include reduced fat cheddar cheese.