Some of the best ideas are new twists on old favorites. Creamed spinach is a childhood favorite that I have always loved and continue to make. Over the years, I’ve tried all kinds of variations on the basic theme—adding bacon or goat cheese or caramelized onions or some other delicious thing to the tried and true basic recipe. So when I was reading Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, I loved her description of this casserole as one that she served so often to her company that they eventually begged for something different. I doubt the truth of that—it would take me a really long time to get tired of this one. Try it with meatloaf or a simply grilled steak and it might just end up on your favorites list too.
Creamed Spinach with Jalapeno Peppers
2 packages frozen spinach
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup evaporated milk
¾ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces, Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
1 tablespoon diced, Jalapeno peppers (I used pickled)
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Cook the spinach according to package directions. Reserve one cup of the cooking liquid, then thoroughly drain the spinach, squeezing out the excess moisture with your hands.
Melt three tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour, stir and cook for a minute or two. Add the onion and the garlic to the flour mixture and continue to cook. Add the reserved cup of spinach cooking liquid and the evaporated milk and continue to cook. Season with the celery salt, kosher salt and pepper. Add the grated cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Add the Jalapeno peppers and taste for seasoning, adding more peppers for more heat.
Turn the mixture into individual buttered ramekins or a buttered casserole. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and add the panko breadcrumbs. Stir until the crumbs are coated with the butter; sprinkle them on top of the casserole and bake for 45 minutes.