25 October 2020

Clafoutis aux épinards, oignons, et pommes de terre

If you don't know what a French clafoutis is, then you are missing out on something that's really good to eat and really easy to make. If the word clafoutis is confusing or mysterious, just think of it as a quiche sans pâte — a crustless quiche. There's no need to make a pie crust. Instead, just some flour to the custard mixture. For examples of crustless quiche recipes, some sweet (for dessert) and some savory (for an appetizer or main course), click this link.

To make this crustless spinach quiche, the first thing you do is cook some spinach. I cook frozen spinach in the microwave, at high or medium high temperature, for 10 or 12 minutes, stirring it a couple of times with a fork during the cooking time, until it is thawed, cooked, and tender. Then drain it well. While the spinach is cooking, peel and chop an onion, peel and finely dice a couple of medium-size potatoes. Sauté the vegetables in butter or oil and add the spinach to the pan. If you want it, sauté some bacon, ham, chicken, or turkey cut into small pieces. Mix the meat and vegetables together in a pie plate. (I'll list the quantities at the end of this post.)

When the cooked meat, spinach, onions, and potatoes, are in the pie plate, arrange some cubes of cheese (your choice — soft goat cheese, mozzarella, ricotta, cheddar, swiss, edam, gouda... I used mild ewe's-milk cheese) over the top. Separately, in a bowl or measuring cup, beat four eggs with a whisk. Then add half a cup of flour and continue whisking until it's all mixed in. Finally, add a cup of milk (or cream, or a mixture like half-and-half) and stir well. This is the custard. Season it with a little bit of salt, some black pepper, and a pinch or grating of nutmeg.

Pour the custard into the pie plate, over the spinach etc., moving everything around gently with a fork to make sure the custard coats everything and gets all the ingredients covered. The flour-egg mixture will form a sort of crust as the clafoutis cooks in the oven. Because you're going to bake it.

Bake the clafoutis in the oven, pre-heated to 180ºC (350ºF), for 30 to 40 minutes. Turn the heat down if the clafoutis starts to brown too much. Keep an eye on it. The custard will puff up and the cheese will melt. The clafoutis will "fall" as it cools, but don't worry about that. Serve and eat wedges of it hot, warm, or cold.

Here are ingredients and quantities:

2 Tbsp. butter or oil (for frying the flavor ingredients)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1½ cups diced potato (two medium potatoes)
10 oz. (300 grams) frozen spinach, cooked and drained of excess liquid
4 eggs, beaten
½ cup (60 grams) flour
1 cup milk and/or cream
salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg to taste
cheese as you please


  1. I used to make Quiche sans pâte from a recipe given to me by Annie T. Maybe you got it too?
    As you said, it was easy to make and delicious.

    1. It seems that the word clafoutis applies only to a preparation with cherries or, by extension, with other fruits. It is a dessert. On the other hand, quiche can be made with vegetables as an entrée or with fruits as a dessert.

    2. Move with the times, CHM. The semantic area covered by clafoutis has been enlarged!

    3. It's interesting that the Robert dictionary says that a clafoutis is a gâteau. Is a quiche sans pâte also a gâteau? What's the difference between a sweet quiche without a crust and a clafoutis. I don't think I've ever tasted a sweet quiche myself. The Robert says that a quiche is a tourte. Can you make a crustless tourte? Isn't a quiche a tarte, since it doesn't have a top crust? My head is spinning. Let's not even discuss how the term cake is used in French as opposed to how it is used in English, where it came from.

    4. Since words don't have any meaning any longer, you can call your preparation anything you like, whether it applies or not.

      CNRTL says that clafoutis is an entremets, so neither a savory entrée nor a main dish.

      As I said the word quiche could be savory or sweet preparations. Here is what CNRTL says at Quiche
      Rem. 1. ,,Dans certaines régions, on appelle quiche toutes les préparations à base de pâte et de migaine [mélange d'œufs et de lait ou de crème] passées au four, exemples: la quiche à l'oignon, au fromage blanc, au potiron ou autres`` (J.-M. Cuny, loc. cit.). 2. Chez Moselly, quiche désigne une tarte aux fruits: Une servante étalait le dessert sur la table, les quiches aux « quetsches » dont le jus coulait parfumé (Terres lorr., 1907, p. 42).

      Consequently, your preparation is a quiche (sans pâte). And probably delicious.

      As for gâteau, CNRTL says, Préparation de pâte sucrée cuite au four, généralement dans un moule...
      Aussi, Entremets sucré assez consistant moulé comme un gâteau... Ce qui fait que le clafoutis est un gâteau.
      Le mot gâteau peut-être utilisé pour des préparations salées ayant la forme d'un gâteau. A meatloaf could be called un gâteau de viande in French.

    5. Quant au cake, voici ce qu'en dit le CNRTL :
      Gâteau à base de farine, d'œufs, de beurre et de sucre, et contenant des raisins de Corinthe et des fruits confits. Un morceau, une tranche de cake; un moule à cake. Synon. (angl.) plum-cake.
      I do not know any version different from the one described above.

    6. I haven't seen a cake like that in years. In the U.S., it might be called a fruitcake, though American fruitcakes have a lot more raisins and candied fruit in them than the French cakes ever did. I think you don't see them any more because they're just not very good. By the way, for people wondering how you pronounce cake in French, it's [keck], whether it's singular or plural.

      Nowadays, things cooked in a loaf pan (which is a un moule à cake in French), are called cakes nowadays. There are sweet cakes and savory cakes. As you what you say could be called a gâteau de viande, I've always heard it called un pain de viande. Look at all these recipes for cakes salés.

      The same is true for clafoutis, which these days can be sweet or savory. Look at all these recipes for clafoutis salés.

      From the purist point of view, the term clafoutis can only be applied the original version, which is a sweet custard with cherries in it and no crust. Nowadays, the term clafoutis has come to be used for many other preparations. As for my clafoutis aux épinards, if you wanted to call it something else, would you say une quiche sans pâte aux épinards or une quiche aux épinards sans pâte. Neither of those sounds very clear to me. I think the big problem with the same quiche sans pâte is that a quiche by definition has a crust. So the name quiche sans pâte is impropre, strictly speaking.

      A final thought: what is called zucchini "bread" or banana "bread" in the U.S. would be called un cake aux courgettes or un cake aux bananes. And the cake we call "ginger bread" in the U.S. is similar to what is called pain d'épices in France.

      I hope I've written all this without too many typos.

  2. Replies
    1. Similar in some ways, but this clafoutis is an oven-baked custard, with cream and flour in it, not just eggs. A fritatta is a flat omelet. Both are really good.

  3. Going to make it tonight!

    1. I like food that tastes good but also seems healthy. Is anything healthier than spinach and other greens.

  4. Replies
    1. Well, I have to admit it takes a little time, but for a retired person what is there but time?

  5. This will be added to my Ken’s Recipes folder, thanks!

  6. Oh, I am *so* going to make this. Thanks.
    Meant to add for yesterday that your new rug is quite spiffy, and that last picture has an El Greco quality. Wonderful clouds (although to be truly El Greco, I suppose you need a couple of tortured-looking humans in the foreground).

  7. My wife made this for dinner last night. She did not include flour and used kale instead of spinach (which we don't have). It was delicious and we are having the second half tonight.

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