spinach smokies

Lindsey Bareham

Writers and artists are usually foodies and a writer friend, who sent me this recipe many years ago, is no exception. I make it often. It’s blessedly easy to scale up for more people or made into individual gratins. Do try it.

serves 2, prep 30 min, cook 20 min

2 tomatoes
250g young spinach
2 naturally smoked haddock loin fillets
300ml milk
60g butter
A bunch spring onions
30g flour
1 slice crustless bread
50g finely grated Gruyere

Heat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Drop the tomatoes into a large pan of boiling water. Count to 30, scoop the tomatoes out of the water, splash with cold water, remove the skin and chop (I bother to seed them). Add 1 tsp salt to the water then add the spinach. Cook 2-3 min until wilted then tip into a sieve. Leave to cool. Squeeze out excess liquid and chop.

Meanwhile, place the fish in a pan and cover with the milk. Cook for 5 or 6 min until cooked through. Leave to cool in the milk. Finely slice the onions and soften in half the butter in a medium pan. Fold in the spinach and chopped tomatoes and spoon into a gratin-style dish.

Make a white sauce by melting remaining butter in a small pan. Stir in the flour then, stirring constantly, gradually add the poaching milk to make a smooth, thick sauce. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 8 min before seasoning to taste with salt and nutmeg. Flake the fish over the spinach and pour the sauce over the top. Blitz the bread to make crumbs, mix with cheese and scatter over the top. Bake for 20 min or until crusty and bubbling round the edge.