Spinach Lafayette

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The remains of the day….Excellent leftovers, with several great ways to be re-purposed.

Spinach Madeline is one of the most famous recipes to come out of the classic community cookbook, River Road Recipes, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

According to the Junior League of Baton Rouge, this cookbook is in it’s 70th printing, and is still available across the country in bookstores.   Yes, I’ve looked, and found it!

Spinach Madeline is a staple at holiday dinners across the Louisiana, the Gulf Coast, and sprinkled around the world by Louisiana transplants.

I don’t know if it’s true, but it seems a likely basis for the ubiquitous Spinach and Artichoke Dip (made famous by Houston’s restaurant.)  And yes, Spinach Madeline came first.

I actually never had Spinach Madeline until I started working in catering in Lafayette (even though we always had the cookbook.)

And the chef there did not follow that particular recipe, but, rather, put a Lafayette spin on it.  Instead of the Jalapeno Cheese roll (which is hard to find these days), he used cream cheese and relied on nacho jalapenos for the spicy kick.  Jalapeno Tabasco also does the trick perfectly.

The result is more like creamed spinach with a bite!

Delicious!

This freezes well, before or after cooking, which is why I like to make such.

I like to freeze the leftovers in small batches, because it’s amazing how many ways the leftovers can be utilized:  omelets; spinach enchiladas; added to a pasta dish or casserole; serve on buttered toast; add a little more cheese and artichokes, toss into a crock pot, and you have Spinach and Artichoke Dip (an almost instant appetizer!)

Try Spinach Madeline, which is great, or my Spinach Lafayette; I think you’d be happy with both.

For 20 people.  You will need two 9 x 13 pans, or one really large casserole:

  • 9 to 10 10-oz boxes frozen, chopped spinach, thawed overnight

  • 4 to 8 tablespoons butter

  • 2 medium onions, minced

  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped

  • 2 celery sticks, chopped fine

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 8-ounce boxes cream cheese

  • 8 ounce pasteurized cheese, cut in cubes

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning

  • 1/4 cup minced pickled jalapenos (nacho jalapenos)

  • 2-3 cup shredded cheese, any good melting cheese

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Thaw the spinach overnight.  I like to place all the boxes in a large mixing bowl, standing them on ends so that the liquid drains out into the bowl.  Save the liquid in case you want to add it to the casserole.

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Coat a casserole dish with nonstick spray or butter, and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and cook until soft but not brown. Add one cup of the reserved (drained) liquid from the spinach pot. Stir constantly.  Add the cheeses, stirring constantly.

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Stirring in the first two boxes of spinach…

Add seasonings and minced jalapenos.  Add more of the spinach liquid if it looks too thick.

Cook, stirring, until smooth and thick. Add the seasonings and cheese and stir until the cheese is completely melted.

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Add 3 boxes of spinach, and mix well.  Add the remaining boxes of spinach, and mix well.

Pour into the buttered/greased casserole dish and top with shredded cheese of your choice.   Cover with aluminum foil to seal.

Bake until bubbly, about 50 minutes. Serve warm.  If you are only making a few boxes of spinach, the time would reduced to about 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

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