This is the. best. casserole. ever.
This is a standby at Thanksgiving, Christmas, family celebrations and Wednesday nights that need a pick-me-up.
It is also what my mom used to trick me into liking spinach. (Thanks, Mom!)
The recipe is from the original River Road Recipes cookbook, the first in the series of cookbooks from the Junior League of Baton Rouge. It was published in the 1950’s so many of the recipes call for ingredients and brands that aren’t around any longer…including this one.
One of they key ingredients in this casserole is a roll of Kraft Jalapeño Cheese. Kraft stopped making this delicious roll of cheesy goodness a while ago so we’ve been using the Mexican Velveeta in its place. Kraft also made a garlic cheese roll that is called for in the RRR Garlic Cheese Grits and is also discontinued.
With all the cooking that the fine ladies of Baton Rouge do, I can’t imagine that Kraft didn’t see the market for their delicious rubbery rolls of garlic and jalapeño cheese…
Moving on, here’s what you need to make my favorite vegetable dish. It can still be called a vegetable even though it has almost half of a pound of cheese in it right?
You might recognize the hunka cheese in the picture above from my post about Bully Cheese. Mexican Velveeta is definitely a lot easier to find in your local supermarket and its what I will be back to using as soon as my MS State cheese runs out.
Start by defrosting the spinach in the microwave. Add a few tablespoons of water to the bottom of a bowl and put the spinach in.
Microwave for 3-4 minutes, stopping once to break up the spinach with your fork.
Set a colander in a bowl, then pour the spinach (with the liquid in the bottom of the bowl) into the colander, making sure that the liquid is caught in the bottom bowl.
Measure about 1/2 c of the spinach liquid and set it aside.
Now we’re about to make the roux. You’ll want to have your onion and cheese ready. Dice half of an onion into small pieces.
Also chop the cheese into 1/2-inch cubes.
In a large saute pan, melt the butter.
Once it is foaming, add the flour.
Quick! Give it a stir. In fact, don’t stop stirring until it has turned light brown.
Once it has, add the onions and cook until they are soft.
Then the evaporated milk.
Stir the mixture for a few minutes until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Then add the black pepper, red pepper, celery salt, garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce.
Stir to combine, then add the cubes of cheese.
Once the cheese has melted, add the spinach.
Stir to combine, then remove from the heat.
Pour the spinach mixture into a greased 8″ x 8″ casserole dish. You can freeze it at this point or cook it immediately.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes, until the top is light brown and it bubbles around the edge.
2 pkgs. frozen chopped spinach
4 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. onion, diced
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1/2 c. spinach “stock” (reserved liquid from cooked spinach)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 tsp. celery salt
3/4 tsp. garlic salt
Salt, to taste
Red pepper, to taste
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
6 oz. Mexican Velveeta, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and reserve liquor.
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add flour, stirring until the roux is light brown. Add onion and cook until soft, but not brown.
Add milk and vegetable liquor slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook until smooth and thick; continue stirring. Add seasonings, Worcestershire sauce and Mexican Velveeta. Stir until melted.
Combine with cooked spinach. Pour into a greased 8″ x 8″ baking dish. If you plan to freeze it, this is the perfect time to do that. If you are cooking it immediately, bake at 3509 degrees F for 45 minutes, until the top browns lightly.