Friday, April 2, 2010

My Way Spinach Bake and The Original Spinach Madeline

A classic spinach casserole based on Spinach Madeleine, made with spinach, sauteed vegetables, sour cream and mushrooms.

My Way Spinach Bake

Known by a couple of names with some variations - Spinach Madeleine, Calhoun's Spinach Maria, Spinach Supreme, Spinach Justine, Spinach Gratin, Spinach Pauline, Spinach Dorinne, or just simply Spinach Bake - if you enjoy spinach you're sure to like this. It's really a basic skillet dish made of spinach, seasonings, some kind of cheese, often sour cream, sometimes half and half, milk, or heavy cream, sometimes eggs and is sometimes topped with cheese or buttered bread crumbs. Each recipe has its own unique twist and variation.  I've even seen one recipe that uses phyllo!

Spinach Madeline is a holiday favorite for sure - be sure to double the recipe!

As far as how it came about being, I read a gal named Helen over on the Southern Living community boards, said that she was once a guest at the Green Springs Inn in the Tunica Hills of St Francisville, Louisiana, and that the owner and innkeeper, Madeline Nevill, laid claim to the actual invention of Spinach Madeleine many years ago.

Photo Credit: Green Springs Inn

Once she opened the inn with her now late husband, she served it to guests there. A remarkably similar, though slightly different recipe was submitted by someone else though and published at some point in the popular Baton Rouge Junior League cookbook River Road Recipes. I'm not sure in which edition (I own the 1993 edition, which happens to be the 69th printing) the River Road Recipes Spinach Madeline was first published, but they certainly lay claim to it too.  I don't know who gets the original credit to be honest, but I can tell you that Spinach Madeline has taken on a life of its own in popularity down around these parts for sure.

The original Nevill recipe starts with making a roux, and then adds in 1/2 cup evaporated milk, with 1/2 cup of the liquor from squeezing out the spinach.  It also called for the now discontinued Kraft garlic cheese roll {or the also discontinued jalapeno roll, depending on which "original" recipe you are endeared to} so you'll have to try to recreate that, or it appears that most people are simply substituting Velveeta these days, and that is alright by me!

Since the "original" River Roads Recipes Spinach Madeline used the jalapeno roll, its site suggests using regular Velveeta now, with 2 teaspoons of chopped jalapeno, but many folks are using the Mexican style Velveeta. What I did here, is an adaptation blending of the "original" Spinach Madeline Nevill's Spinach Madeline and Marcelle Bienvenu's version of a similar Spinach Bake from Who's Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make a Roux?. I think it's pretty darned good.

The Cajun won't touch spinach, unless it is well disguised in something else {and he doesn't know about it}. Yes. I absolutely do that y'all and with great pride and not a bit of trepidation! It's one of the only ways I can get vegetables into a man who seriously believes that rice and potatoes are vegetables. So... when I make spinach dishes where spinach is central, well, they are pretty much my own to eat for days. I'll get around to the "original" for y'all on my next spinach round. In the meantime, that recipe is at the bottom. As mentioned, this recipe is essentially a skillet meal that doesn't require baking, however, the 'my way version' is topped with cheese and needs to go into the oven for a quick melt and heat through.

For my version, first I cooked off the spinach in the microwave, and set it in a colander to drain. I started off sauteing the veggies in some butter, added the seasonings, and then some softened cream cheese. I would have gone the Velveeta route, but didn't happen to have any in the house.

Stir in the sour cream and then the canned mushrooms if using. I would have used fresh mushrooms, but didn't have any, and Marcelle's recipe calls for canned, which I happen to keep in the pantry.  If you're using fresh, just saute those off with the other veggies once they've softened a bit.  There are no mushrooms in the original Spinach Madeline, so you can also just omit them.

Add the drained spinach. In the original Spinach Madeline, you will reserve and use the "liquor," or in other words, the juices drained off from the spinach, along with some evaporated milk. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and pass a chunk of whole nutmeg over a microplane grater about 4 times. Stir that all together well.

Transfer the mixture to a buttered 9 x 9 inch baking dish, sprinkle the top with cheese and a couple dashes of paprika, if desired. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees, or just until heated through and the cheese has melted.

That picture at the top? Um, don't let it get quite that brown. Once again, I got a bit distracted with something else, and forgot about it in the oven, so mine went just a little bit too long. So... don't do that.

Serve hot and enjoy!

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Recipe: My Way Spinach Bake

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 20 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen, chopped spinach
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 8 ounces of garlic cheese roll substitute, Mexican style Velveeta, pepper jack, plain softened cream cheese, or your favorite choice of cheese
  • 2 cups of sour cream
  • 1 cup of canned, sliced mushrooms, drained, optional
  • About 4 passes of whole nutmeg over a microplane grater, optional
  • Grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese for topping, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 9 inch baking dish and set aside. Microwave the spinach, and set aside to drain.

Melt the butter and saute the onion and celery. Add the salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Stir in the cream cheese and sour cream, add the mushrooms and spinach and make a few passes of whole nutmeg over a microplane grater; blend together well. Taste and adjust seasonings and transfer to prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle top with cheese, if desired, and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Double for the holidays.


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Photo Credit: Green Springs Inn

The Original Madeline Nevill Spinach Madeline
Green Springs Bed and Breakfast Specialty Recipe
St. Francisville, Louisiana
Shared from the Kitchen of
  • 2 packages frozen, chopped spinach
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 ounces of Mexican Velveeta (cut into small pieces)*
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Red pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons green Tabasco pepper sauce
Cook spinach according to package directions; drain and reserve liquor. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add flour, stirring until blended and smooth, but not brown. Add onion and vegetable broth and cook until soft. Add evaporated milk slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook until smooth and thick, continuing to stir. Add seasonings and cheese; stir until melted. Combine with cooked spinach.

This may be served immediately or put into a casserole and topped with buttered bread crumbs. The flavor is improved if the casserole is left in the refrigerator overnight. The dish may also be frozen.

Serves: 5 to 6

*The original recipe called for one 6-ounce roll garlic cheese, but that product is no longer available.

Double for the holidays.


The "New" River Roads
Recipes Spinach Madeleine
From the Junior League of Baton Rouge
Shared from the Kitchen of
  • 2 packages frozen chopped spinach
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 6 ounces Kraft Velveeta
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh jalapeno peppers
  • 1/2 cup vegetable liquor
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Red pepper to taste
Cook spinach according to directions on package. Drain and reserve liquor. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.

Add flour, stirring until blended and smooth, but not brown. Add onion and cook until soft but not brown. Add liquid slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.

Cook until smooth and thick; continue stirring. Add seasonings, peppers and cheese which has been cut into small pieces. Stir until melted. Combine with cooked spinach.

This may be served immediately or put into a casserole and topped with buttered bread crumbs. The flavor is improved if the latter is done and kept in refrigerator overnight. This may also be frozen.

Serves about 6

Spinach Madeleine is an extremely versatile dish. It can be served with crackers as an appetizer, as a side dish or even as a main course when stuffed in a tomato!


Double for the holidays.

Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

Broccoli and Cheese Casserole
Classic Green Bean Casserole
Ultra Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole

Posted by on April 2, 2010
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