Spinach Casserole ♥

My friend Christi's grandmother's recipe for Spinach CasseroleWhen my friend Christi heard about my 2007 collection of Thanksgiving vegetable recipes, she offered her grandmother's recipe for a traditional spinach casserole. Sure! But reading the ingredient list of cottage cheese, cheese and eggs -- and only ten ounces of spinach -- I was fully prepared to not like it.

Even Christi, who has what might be called a 'theoretical' attachment to vegetables, says, "Our family spinach casserole recipe should come with its own paramedic." Or a heart defribrillator.

But friends trust friends and she made made me promise to try it 'just once' without modification. Thank you, Christi, for saving me from myself - this is a winner!

SPINACH CASSEROLE

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 60 minutes
Makes 3 1/2 cups

1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon table salt (or salt to taste)
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach

3 eggs, whisked
3 tablespoons flour
16 ounces cottage cheese (I used a 1% cottage cheese from Pevely that is so creamy, you don't know it's just 1%)
4 ounces 'brick' cheese (Christi's grandmother cuts the cheese in 1" cubes)
4 ounces American cheese (same)
1/2 stick melted butter (Christi's family leaves this out and so do I)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and let dissolve. Add the spinach and cook til done. Transfer to a colander and drain well. (Christi's mother uses a new potato ricer to drain the water from the spinach. I used the back of a spoon to press the spinach against the colander until it stopped expressing liquid.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Stir in cooked and drained spinach. Grease a shallow quiche pan or an 8x8 baking dish. Bake uncovered for 60 minutes or until top begins to brown.

TO PREP AHEAD
ONE or TWO DAYS BEFORE Mix the casserole but do not bake.
DAY OF Return to room temperature. Bake at 350F for an hour. Christi says the uncooked casserole can be frozen but should be fully thawed before baking.

LEFTOVER REPORT Warms up beautifully!


KITCHEN NOTES
Double the recipe for a 9x13 pan.
Do salt the spinach while cooking.
I wasn't sure what 'brick' cheese was and the grocery store didn't have any; so I used a Kraft mix of crumbled cheeses, cheddar, mozzarella and one other.

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MORE IDEAS for THANKSGIVING VEGETABLE RECIPES using GREENS
~ Gratin of Greens was the featured "spinach" recipe in 2006 ~
~ Noodles with Sour Cream ~
~ Orzo with Spinach ~
~ Spinach Puffs from my food column, Kitchen Parade ~
~ more spinach recipes ~
~ more Thanksgiving recipes ~


Move aside, turkeys. (No, not you, dear readers! Thanksgiving turkeys!) Here at A Veggie Venture, vegetables are the real stars of the Thanksgiving table. So it's new Thanksgiving recipes all November long for a fabulous collection of Thanksgiving vegetable recipe ideas. Whether it's last year's famous World's Best Green Bean Casserole or a brand-new recipe which catches your fancy this year, move over turkeys, it's vegetables' time.
© Copyright 2007

13 comments:

Delish -- I'm wondering if it's not more of a main-dish for the Thanksgiving ovo-lacto vegetarian crowd...in any case, it sounds like something I would love, any day of the year.

If you're using frozen spinach, it's already cooked - why not just thaw and drain the spinach and be on your way with the rest of the recipe? Saves a couple of dishes, at least.

Salting the spinach while its cooking? Is the salt used for flavor, or just to get the water boiling faster? Between the three cheeses, I'd think the flavor requirement of the salt would be covered.

Maybe it's like the story about cutting the end off the ham...

Wow, this sounds a lot like criticism - I certainly only mean to share ideas!!

Julie ~ At least to my taste, it actually is more of a 'side' than a main dish, despite looking substantial. If you want to make it a main dish, then I'd make sure to have other ovo-lacto vegetarian side dish choices as well.

T ~ No worries! Your comments are spot on with what I might have done had I not promised Christi to make no changes.

re cooking the spinach - at least to my taste, the cooking adds moisture, even if much of it as expressed

re the salt - it's for flavor and again, at least to my taste, the cheeses didn't provide enough salt and so cooking the spinach both adds the moisture and distributes the salt throughout

re the end of the ham, perhaps! let me know what you choose and how it turn out.

I read that joke about cutting the end off ham in a Jewish cookbook I have:)
Re: this spinach casserole - it certainly contains lots of cheese, but it sounds delicious. Any chance of explaining what's a 'brick' cheese and what's 'American' cheese?

Oh yum -- looks wonderful!

Brick Cheese is almost always available at Schnuck's deli counter.
It is a very mild white cheese.

Christi's Dad

Thanks, Christi's Dad! Now we know what 'brick' cheese is.

And Pille, 'American' cheese is another processed cheese, sort of a mild yellow cheddar. If I were you, I'd pick some of your gorgeous Estonian cheeses, not try to replicate the American pasteurized cheeses.

Now I'm going to look for "brick cheese" -- never heard of it. I wonder if you can go a different route and use farmer cheese in this... it's cottage cheese with less moisture.

Lydia - Farmers Cheese and Brick Cheese are almost the same thing (to my mind) and I can buy Brick Cheese at Fareway here in Iowa.

I *hate* frozen spinach and would replace it with fresh. But this sounds really good. Thanks Christi!

I guess I just love all things spinach. This looks perfect to me. If somebody was this more main dish what about something like black beans to it. Could I cheat and add more spinach ;)

I made this last night -- super easy and excellent. Cut way down on the cheese to make it lower in fat. For the doubled recipe, I used about 20 ounces of reduced fat cottage cheese (instead of 32), about 8 ounces of shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese (instead of 16), 2 real eggs and 3/4 cup egg substitute, about 4 T whole wheat flour, about 1 t salt (could have used a tiny bit more). Also, I didn't bother to cook the spinach beforehand; I just thawed it, then wrung the boxes out with my hands over the sink, so I only got the one mixing bowl and the baking dish dirty. The only changes I will try next time will be to use slightly stronger cheeses (perhaps a little goat cheese) and/or some sour cream to make it a little tangier. But it was truly great. Thanks Alanna!

That's great news, Zoe, thanks for sharing your lower-fat tips. It's great to know that it can be more healthful and still delicious!

I needed a fast covered dish yesterday afternoon. I didn't have time to go to the grocery store. What I had in the refrigerator and freezer were 2 boxes of spinach, a container of low-fat ricotta and a small block of very, very dried-out ricotta, eggs, a brik-pak box of low-fat milk and a little butter for the dish. Worked just fine. I got to the covered dish event on time.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna