Prawn and spinach not really au gratin

Sometimes, it's the simplest of ingredients that can make a great dish. Staring at a bunch of spinach that the vegetable vendor had brought the other day, I couldn't think of anything particularly interesting that I could do with it. The usual spinach and potatoes, maybe?

The idea of a gratinated dish began to take shape. Perhaps with a white sauce? Flipping through an old cookbook, I found a recipe for a fish and spinach bake. A call to the nearby fish shop revealed that they had  not got any pomfret that day. But they could send me large prawns.

And within the hour, I had some really fresh prawns at hand. And with the potatoes, milk, cream and cheese, the makings of a great dish (imho) began to take shape. The spinach was still a little wet after being sauteed and with the remainder of the milk and cream mixture (left after boiling the potatoes) poured over the top of the potato layer, I wanted to dry off a little more of the liquid, hence the need to bake the dish rather that pop it under the grill to brown the crust.

Prawn and spinach not really au gratin

1 bunch spinach
250 gm shelled and deveined prawns
500 gm potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped very fine
250 ml milk
150 ml cream
100 gm grated cheese
50 gm mozzarella cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Remove spinach stems, wash well to remove grit and chop roughly.
Peel potatoes and cut into thick slices.
Heat the butter, saute the garlic then toss in the spinach.
When it wilts, remove with tongs and place in an 8" greased oven proof baking dish.
In the water left over from cooking the spinach, cook the prawns till all the water evaporates. Do not overcook the prawns.
Arrange the prawns over the spinach.
Bring milk and cream to a boil in a pan, add in the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and cook till the potatoes are almost done.
Sprinkle half the cheese over the prawns, arrange the potatoes over them so the entire top of the dish is covered.

Pour over the remaining milk and cream mix, sprinkle the remaining cheese over and bake at 180°C till golden brown.
Serve with fresh bread and a salad.

If you don't like prawns, you could substitute it with cubes of any white fleshed fish.  


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