Servings: 8 Prep: 20 mins Cook: 45 mins Total: 1 hr 20 mins
I’m often asked about side dishes. I’m sort of bizarre about side dishes, I suppose. I come from the restaurant world, where … side dishes don’t often exist. Typically, a plate is composed, meaning it’s not a compartmentalized selection of unrelated things … a chicken breast, with a side of broccoli, a cheese sauce and a side of roasted potatoes. Most of my personal experience has been more in creating dishes where every bite contains a little bit of something on the plate. This creates more of a mélange … or a potpourri of ingredients, specifically matched and designed to taste great and look great, with everything else on the plate. For better or for worse, this is my training and my background!
So, when it comes time to creating a “side” dish … it’s challenging for me. In order for me to really think about the side … I can’t help but need to know what it’s on the side OF!
For example, I probably wouldn’t serve a habenero tickled bed of spicy peppers as a side for … Petrale Sole. The sole would get lost amidst the spice! I’m also unlikely to suggest a lightly poached cauliflower, leek and micro-chervil salad with … say … Boldly Roasted Bone-In Leg of Lamb. While I’m sure it would be tasty, the lamb commands a heartier side than a dainty little salad like that.
So … when it comes time to create a side dish … my mind argues with me … I go back and forth and back and forth, to try and create something that would generally match pretty much everything! In this case?
For this recipe, I think it’s a perfect match for something like pork. A pork chop, or a roasted pork loin. Smoked turkey breast? What about a roasted chicken. Perfect! This is a perfect accompaniment to pork and poultry, but … I’d skip the fish … and the red meats with this one. For whatever reason … my brain says no.
Ah, this particular dish is just outstanding, by the way! It’s like a thick, creamy and velvety pudding. It’s a bit of extra work to make and does require a quick roux is made from the tapioca flour, but the end result is a silky smooth texture, blended with the colorful vegetables, it makes for a special side dish … no matter WHAT my history would have you believe. Enjoy this one. WELL worth the effort!
Note: We all have our peculiarities. For this, you could use frozen spinach (just be sure to defrost and squeeze out any extra water) and roasted peppers from a jar or can. I love the vibrancy of fresh spinach and find roasted peppers in jars to be about as good as the real thing … so I tend to always use fresh spinach and always use jarred peppers. However … you could use frozen spinach and roast your own peppers … if you wanted to be different!
Spinach, Roasted Pepper and Parmesan PuddingPrint Rate
- 2 lb fresh spinach leaves washed and stems removed
- 2 small roasted red bell peppers peeled, seeded and cut into thin strips
- 3 tbsp fresh whole butter
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 each garlic clove minced
- 3 tbsp tapioca flour
- 1 cup almond milk unsweetened
- 3/4 cup cream heavy whipping
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 large eggs
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 350 F (177 C).
- Grease a 2 1/2 quart (2.35L) casserole dish and set aside.
- Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil, over high heat.
- Gather a bowl with ice cubes and water, as well as a colander or straining device, of some kind. Once the water boils, add a nice amount of salt. Place your spinach into the boiling water and allow to swirl around for about 30 seconds. Remove the spinach with the strainer and immediately plunge it into the ice water. When it is thoroughly cooled, remove the spinach and squeeze it, by clinching it in your fists (or with a cloth), until all the water has been squeezed out. You should have a sizeable lump of bright green cooked spinach.
- Coarsely chop the spinach and set in a small mixing bowl. Add the roasted peppers and mix. Evenly distribute the mixed spinach and pepper mixture along the bottom of the casserole pan.
- Place a medium sized sauce pan on the stove over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the onions and garlic with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tapioca flour and stir in and cook for a further 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Quickly whisk in the cold cream and almond milk. Bring this mixture up to a slow simmer. Once it is simmering, whisk in the grated cheese. Taste the sauce and adjust with a bit of salt and pepper.
- In a medium mixing bowl, place your four eggs. Carefully and quickly whisk about 1/4 of the hot cheese sauce. You want this to be quick and incorporate the eggs ... not "scramble" the eggs. Once this is whisked in, whisk in the remaining sauce.
- Pour your pudding base over the top of the spinach mixture, in an even layer. Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes or until golden, firm and lightly puffed in the center. Remove and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
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