Jalapeno Creamed Spinach

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Creamed spinach–Texas style! Rich with cream & cheese and spiked with pickled jalapeno, this is a Dallas classic from the ’70s. Searching out how people ate in different regions during different decades, there’s nothing more helpful than community cookbooks. Compilations of favorite recipes from cultural, philanthropic, civic & religious groups, schools & institutions, these spiral-bound booklets invariably carry at least one or two truly worthy dishes. This creamed spinach–which I first found in my 1976 Dallas Junior League Cookbook–is my adaptation of another adaptation done by Cheryl & Bill Jamison in their 1999-published, American Home Cooking. Sans canned-creamed-soup and minus the processed cheese, this is a gourmet side dish worthy of birthday dinners and holiday feasts. The pickled jalapeno adds a lot to the flavor. For another tasty creamed spinach? Try this vintage recipe from Chicago’s Whitehall Club.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Jalapeno Creamed Spinach Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 3 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 stalks celery, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 small sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese OR a combination of shredded parmesan and mozzarella
  • 3 Tbsp minced, pickled jalapenos OR–for a milder version:  1/2 cup salsa verde (green salsa made with tomatillo & jalapenos) OR 1 small can diced green chilies

Crumb Topping Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

 

Instructions

  1. Prepare spinach: Rinse spinach leaves, removing any grit and stems. Drain and paper-towel dry. Heat garlic in oil until soft in a VERY large pot; add all of the spinach and using two large wooden spoons, carefully turn to incorporate the oil and garlic. Cover the pot and cook over low heat, opening the pot to turn and stir frequently until the spinach has completely wilted down to the bottom 1/3 of the pot. Remove from heat. Drain the spinach in a colander. Cool.
  2. While the spinach cools, saute chopped onion and celery in a heavy skillet, covered, over low heat until very soft. Add 2 Tbsp of water and cook 2 minutes more.
  3. By handfuls, squeeze liquid out of the cooled spinach. Place on clean kitchen towel or a stack of several paper towels and press to remove more liquid.
  4. Blend 1/3 of the spinach with the half-and-half. (I used an immersion blender, but you can use a regular blender or food processor for this.) Set aside.
  5. Add 3 Tbsp of flour to the soft onion and celery mixture in the saute pan. Stir, over low heat, and allow to toast/cook for about five minutes.
  6. While the flour toasts with the onion/celery mixture, finely chop the remaining 2/3 of the spinach.
  7. Add the whipping cream to the onion/celery/flour mixture in the saute pan and whisk/stir until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in the cheese until melted. Stir in the spinach that you pureed with half-and-half, plus the finely-chopped spinach. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Add jalapenos, OR, if you want a milder version–salsa verde or chilies.
  9. Spoon into a baking dish.
  10. Preheat oven to 350. Wash out saute pan. Melt remaining 1 Tbsp of butter and add bread crumbs and garlic salt to pan. Toast for about 3 minutes until golden. Sprinkle crumbs over spinach in baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve hot.

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