Spinach Sausage Gratin

My dinner plans last night included a friend who rarely arrives in a timely fashion.  Thus, it’s important to choose menu items that you can either make ahead and bake quickly after her arrival or things that work just fine even if they have to sit for a little while.  I decided that this recipe sounded good and fell into the former category. I served it with some more Honey Mustard Sweet Potatoes.

Of course I didn’t make it exactly as the recipe intended, but pretty darn close.  Instead of adding lots of garlic to plain pork sausage I used Hot Italian Sausage from Faith Farm.  I know I rave about this sausage every time I use it, but it’s really worth some raving.  I also had nothing resembling a French baguette in the house so I used bread crumbs from a can.  I did grate my own parmesan so that made me feel better about the bread crumb thing.

This is a pretty easy dish to put together.  When you get to the part where you bring the milk and eggs to a boil with everything else take the “stir constantly” instruction seriously.  And stir all the way to the bottom of the pot or you’ll have a lumpy scorched mess.  Everything else is pretty straightforward.  I baked mine at 450 in a round glass Pyrex dish so the mixture was about 4 inches deep.  The recipe calls for an 11 x 7 baking dish.  I think you’ll be better off with a shallower dish.  My gratin never firmed up even when I cooked it an extra 10 minutes (nearly doubling the cooking time).  I was fully prepared to blame this entirely on my choice of baking dish until I read some comments from other folks who have made this dish.  Turns out that most people ended up with a texture that was less than ideal.  Maybe using individual ramekins would solve the problem.

So the flavor was good, but the texture was mushy and it looked kind of gross on the plate.  Turns out that even reheating it in the microwave for leftovers tonight didn’t solve the mush issue.  Still, I ate the mush because it’s pretty darn good.  And my guest last evening had two helpings so that’s a pretty good review.  I might try this again.  Or I might just use a more tried and true egg casserole kind of recipe.  The nice thing about this recipe is that it’s not overly “egg-y.” The milk and flour allow you to use fewer eggs and, theoretically, get a fluffier texture in the end.

Good? Taste yes.  Appearance, definitely not.
Easy? Mostly.
Good for company? Only very forgiving company.
Special shopping? Nope.

Spinach Sausage Gratin

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped onion 2 garlic cloves, minced
6 ounces hot Italian pork sausage
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 ounces fresh spinach, trimmed
Cooking spray
1/3 C bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; swirl. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add sausage, salt, and pepper; sauté 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove mixture from pan; drain. Wipe pan.

3. Return sausage mixture to pan. Stir in flour; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Combine milk and eggs, stirring well. Reduce heat to medium. Stir milk mixture into sausage mixture; bring to a boil, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in spinach. Spoon spinach mixture into an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

4. Sprinkle crumbs over spinach mixture, and top with cheese. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until bubbly.

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