This is one of Chuck’s favorite morning savory dishes and per his request, I share this with you! Additionally, with spring holidays upon us, a brunch offering seemed apropos.This dish is full of fresh flavor and is visually elegant. Serves four.
Although the recipe looks lengthy, in reality it is quite simple and fun to make. It lends itself beautifully to preparation the night before and is easily doubled. In the morning, simply warm the spinach and re-heat the sauce. For final assembly, all that is needed is to poach the eggs and saute the polenta.<!--- custom code start --->
1 - 1 1/2 # fresh spinach (or Swiss chard or arugula)
2 T. butter
Pinch of salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg
3 T. whipping cream (or half and half)
2 – 3 T. butter
1/4 c. flour
Pinch of mace (optional)
1/2 c. Jarlsberg cheese, grated (or Swiss cheese)
1 c. hot whole milk
2 T. freshly finely grated parmesan cheese
Preparing the Spinach
Place washed spinach in large pan and cook on low heat about 3 – 4 minutes until wilted. Drain well to remove excess water and chop. Melt butter in same pan and add drained & chopped spinach, seasonings and cream. Heat thoroughly.
Divide spinach mixture into four gratin dishes, making a well in the center of each. (At this point, dishes may be covered with foil and placed in refrigerator overnight. When ready to bake, place covered gratin dishes on a cookie sheet in a 200º oven to warm before final assembly.)
Preparing the Topping
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and stir until incorporated. Add the hot milk and blend well with a whisk until smooth. Add the Jarlsberg cheese and stir until blended. (May be refrigerated until ready to top over spinach. Re-warm at a very low heat to prevent scorching.)
Final assembly and baking
Poach 4 eggs in egg poacher or slip eggs into simmering water in large pan and poach 3 – 5 minutes. Place poached egg in “well” of spinach mixture in gratin pan and spoon several spoonfuls of cheese sauce over egg and spinach. Sprinkle finely grated parmesan cheese over top of each dish. Broil briefly until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown. Sprinkle with paprika and serve with grilled polenta and a garnish of fresh greens.
6 1/2 c. cold water
2 tsp. salt
2 cups polenta (coarse grained cornmeal)
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 c. shredded parmesan cheese
Place water, salt, and polenta in large heavy saucepan. Cook over med-low heat stirring often (I use a heavy whisk) until mixture thickens, being careful to scrape along bottom of pan during the stirring. When mixture is thick (like pudding) remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese. Pour polenta onto a lightly greased rimmed cookie sheet. Spread with spatula to smooth out evenly.
Once cooled, refrigerate tray until firm. (Nice to make the evening before if serving for breakfast.) Cut into squares – usually 12 per cookie sheet. Cut each square into two triangles.
Grill/saute over medium-high heat (a cast iron pan works great) for about a minute or two on each side until browned and slightly crisp. Serve along side the Florentine.
Leftover polenta is wonderful topped with a chunky tomato sauce and cheese or with a pesto/fresh tomato/egg topping for a tasty lunch or dinner.