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Going Green

Apr 22, 2021

It is Earth Day. Countless sources are providing us with information about recycling, reducing pollutants and other ways to minimize our effect on the Earth. Some of it is just common sense, but other ideas are more innovative and creative. It is encouraging to know that people are paying attention and making an effort to protect our resources.

Hubs and I may not make as much of an effort as we should. Recycling processes out here on the prairie just aren’t as simple as curbside pickup. We have to consciously work to reduce, reuse and recycle, and honestly don’t always do as well as we should. I know our household could do better to be more energy efficient and aware of our environment. Earth Day is a good time to contemplate making a change for the green.

Gardening is one seasonal change for green that I am greatly anticipating. I can’t wait to get some seedlings in the ground and am even more anxious for our first harvest. The moment the temps start consistently warming (and the weekly little snow squalls end), you can bet my hands will be in the dirt.

Spinach will be one of the first producers from my garden, and I have a myriad of favorite recipes for this green. Its mild flavor is a perfect complement for so many dishes. I add it to almost everything to boost the vitamin and nutrient count, but it is a featured ingredient of one delicious side: Spinach and Potato Gratin.

Layers of thinly sliced seasoned potatoes and spinach are bathed in cream and topped with beautifully toasted cheese. It is the ideal side dish for everything — beef, pork, fish or poultry. What bite of protein couldn’t benefit from a swirl through the creamy sauce of these potatoes? The green of the spinach in Spinach and Potato Gratin is the perfect earthiness for my plate.


Spinach and thinly sliced potatoes are layered in this creamy, comforting dish.

Spinach and Potato Gratin


4-6 medium red potatoes

10-12 ounces fresh baby spinach

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

kosher salt

fresh ground black pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/16 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Scrub potatoes and slice (skins on) into 1/4-inch rounds. (I use my mandoline slicer ... but watch your fingers.)

Arrange 1/3 of the sliced potatoes in the bottom of a greased casserole dish, baking pan or cast-iron skillet.

Layer 1/2 of the fresh spinach on top. (I press it down a little.)

Brush with melted butter and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange a second layer of 1/3 of the potatoes on top of the seasoned spinach. (Again, I press down to try to get tighter layers.)

Repeat layering with the remaining spinach.

Brush again with melted butter and season with salt and pepper.

Layer the last of the potatoes on top of the spinach, again. (And ... yes, again, press down to tighten the layers.)

Brush with the last of the melted butter and season with the salt and pepper. (Beware of over salting with the repeated layers. However, the dish really needs the flavor at each layer, so don't skimp.)

Whisk the nutmeg and cream together.

Pour over the potato and spinach layers in the casserole dish.

Cover and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and cream is bubbling up around the layers. (You may want to place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet or slide some aluminum foil on the rack below to catch any bubble over and potential drips.)

Remove lid or foil and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Heat oven to broil and carefully melt the cheese to toasty goodness. (Serves 4-6)


Fran Hill has been blogging about food at On My Plate since October of 2006. She, her husband and their three dogs ranch near Colome.


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