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Cheese is able to cover a multitude of sins. There aren’t many dishes that can’t be improved by throwing some cheese at them. Cheese goes with loads of things, if not one variety then another. There is a type of cheese for every time of day and it is even subject to seasonality, which I’d not known – vacherin for instance can only be made in autumn and winter, for complex reasons policed strictly by AOP.
It’s the food you don’t attempt to make at home, unless you’re Alex James, possibly with the exception of paneer, labneh and apparently ricotta (that I’ve yet to try). It’s one (ehem, of many) food I can never have enough of and always find space for. It contains no carbs, good fat and actually seems to protect against cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. I feel for those who can't eat cheese through intolerance and pity the fools who choose not to eat it.
Spinach is usually paired with ricotta and stuffed into pasta, filo and pies. This is quite an improvised dish, the recipe based on a fridge dive. But it turned out so good I wanted to make it again and again. And one thing is certain: if this doesn’t entice your kids to spinach, nothing will.
- 400g (2 cups) fresh spinach, picked, washed and dried in a salad spinner
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic (or 3 of green garlic) peeled and chopped
- salt and pepper
- 120ml (½ cup) double cream
- 1 medium egg
- 50g (½ cup) hard cheese, grated
- 3-4 tbsp. grated or shaved Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7. Wilt the spinach by plunging it into boiling water for a minute; alternatively place it in a plastic bag and microwave for 2 minutes on full power. Let it cool down, squeeze out as much moisture as you can and chop it roughly.
Spread it over the bottom of a small gratin dish. Sprinkle the onions and garlic over it and season with salt and pepper. Beat the egg with the cream in a cup, stir in the hard cheese and pour over the spinach and stir in gently.
Top the dish with the grated or shaved Parmesan and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Let it stand for 10 minutes – it tastes better when not piping hot.