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Sweet Potato and Spinach Gratin

March 4, 2010

Sweet Potato and Spinach Gratin

I’ll be honest, I had little niggling voices of doubt in the back of my mind as I started putting this dinner together. It sounds like a dubious combination: Sweet potatoes, spinach, garlic, and cheddar cheese? For reals? Well, I’m here to tell you, my friends, to allay your fears of a weird dinner. This is excellent! The flavors balance each other very nicely, and it is a wonderful cold weather comfort food dinner: warm and cheesy, but with the added kick of nutritiousness that sweet potatoes and spinach bring to the table: beta carotene, vitamin C, iron, vitamin K, the list goes on and on. I love it when I get my indulgence and my health boost in one place.

You might think that the cheese cancels out the benefits of the vegetables, but let me tell you, that is simply not true. Some vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning they aren’t absorbed in the body without a complementary dose of tasty, tasty, fat. So don’t skimp on the cheese. It’s good for you!

Obviously, you could make this as a tasty side dish, but I just had it for dinner. I’ve been eating side dishes for dinner more and more lately, and they are making me plenty happy. If you’re not cooking for your little ol’ self alone, your family might look at you like a crazy person for serving nothing but a big bowl of gratin for dinner. I told myself it was just like mac and cheese, and it all felt perfectly normal.

Sauteed spinach on its way to becoming gratin

Sweet Potato and Spinach Gratin
(Serves one for dinner, or two as a side dish)

  • about 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium to large sweet potato
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream (you can use whole milk if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly oil the inside of a small baking dish. Slice the sweet potato into round slices, then quarter the slices so you have bite-sized pieces.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat, and add the remaining olive oil. Once it’s hot, add the spinach and cook, stirring gently, until the spinach is wilted. When it’s about halfway cooked, add the garlic. (You could add it earlier, but I like to keep it a little uncooked so it doesn’t entirely disappear in the finished dish.)

Now begin to layer: Place about a third of the potato slices at the bottom of the baking dish, and top with half of the spinach, and a third of the cheese. Add another third of potatoes, the rest of the spinach, and another third of the cheese. Then add the remaining potatoes and top with the remaining cheese. Pour the cream over it all until it’s just to the top layer of sweet potatoes.

Cover the baking dish with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the tin foil and sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs. Bake for another 10 or 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft and the top is golden brown and bubbly. Let cool for at least five minutes before serving.

Sweet Potato and Spinach Gratin

The cream might separate a little bit, but that’s ok. It’ll still taste delicious. It might not be quite as pretty as Smitten Kitchen’s very lovely Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin, but it is a little bit more speedy for a weeknight dinner. It would probably make a great complement to a roast chicken or steak, if you felt so inclined. Though I think it’s pretty spectacular on it’s own.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 5, 2010 7:45 am

    Heh. I’ve been making that same argument about cheese (or butter, or cream) for years. :)

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