Spinach and Cheese Timbales

These delicate and savory custards make an unusual side dish. I serve them alongside roasted meat or, with the addition of a swirl of tomato sauce on top, as a first course. You can substitute chard or kale for the spinach, though both need to cook 5 minutes longer to become tender.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch spinach, about 12 oz (375 g), tough stems removed
  • 4 large eggs
  • cups (12 fl oz/375 ml) whole milk, hot
  • cup (¾ oz/20 g) fresh bread crumbs
  • ½ cup (2 oz/60 g) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp minced yellow onion
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Place the spinach in a large saucepan and add 2 inches (5 cm) of water. Place over high heat and cook until the spinach is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under running cold water. Squeeze dry, then mince. Squeeze dry again and set aside. You should have about ½ cup ( oz/105 g) minced spinach. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then mix in the milk, bread crumbs, cheese, spinach, onion, salt, and pepper.

Butter eight ½–¾ cup (4–6 fl oz/125–180 ml) custard cups or similar ovenproof dishes. Or, butter a 9-inch (23-cm) gratin dish. Divide the milk mixture evenly among the cups or pour into the dish. Place the cups or dish in a baking pan. Pour hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the cups or dish.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the surface is lightly golden, 40–50 minutes. To serve the cups, remove from the water bath and let cool, about 10 minutes. Run a thin-bladed knife around the inside edge of a cup, invert a serving plate over the cup, invert the plate and cup together, and lift off the cup. To serve the gratin dish, unmold the same way onto a platter, and cut into slices to serve at once.

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