Spinach Madeline is a comforting side that is a spicy twist on traditional creamed spinach. Instead of just cream, the spinach is mixed with pepperjack cheese and spices, then baked to make this outstanding vegetarian side dish that pairs well with most meals!
When we lived in Louisiana, I worked as the staff photographer for an arts and entertainment magazine.
One day, I was given the assignment to photograph a woman named Madeline Wright, who lived about 45 minutes away from Baton Rouge in the small Louisiana town of St. Francisville. Her claim to fame was her Spinach Madeline dish, and since we were focusing on the well-loved Louisiana recipe that has been oft copied and repeated, my editors wanted a portrait of the woman who invented it.
I spent a lovely morning with Mrs. Wright at her home, and I left with a new appreciation for her recipe, which I’d been introduced to the winter before and which, as it turned out, was created on accident.
We’ve been making our own rendition of Spinach Madeline ever since.
However, unlike many others, we’re not renaming this classic dish. We’ve taken Mrs. Wright’s original recipe and tinkered with it throughout the years. That said, we haven’t changed it so much that we feel compelled to call it Spinach Skinner (or Spinach Erin or whatever.) It’s still Spinach Madeline to us, and it’s darn good.
It’s simple. It’s easy to put together. And it’s utterly delicious and the perfect side dish for so many meals.
Case in point: We eat Spinach Madeline for most holiday meals that we celebrate by ourselves. Valentine’s Day? Heck yes. Birthdays? Oh yeah. This dish is basically perfect anytime the weather is cool enough to turn on your oven, and it has never disappointed.
Here’s how you can make your own:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup reserved spinach liquid
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¾ teaspoon celery salt
- ¾ teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt, to taste
- ¾ cup pepperjack cheese
- 12 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (with drained liquid reserved)
- ¼ cup pepperjack cheese, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil.
- When the olive oil is simmering, add the onion, stirring in the pan until it has softened.
- Measure in the flour, and stir until the onions are coated. Cook for a few minutes until the flour begins to turn golden brown.
- Slowly pour in the milk and spinach liquid, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Add the Worcestershire, celery salt and black pepper. Taste and add kosher salt if necessary.
- Remove from the heat, and add the ¾ cup of pepperjack cheese and the cooked, drained spinach. Stir until the ingredients have melted together, then transfer to the prepared baking dish.
- Once the mixture is in the baking dish, sprinkle the additional pepperjack on top of the casserole, and transfer to the oven, baking for 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese is browned.
- Serve warm, and enjoy!
This recipe is easily doubled or tripled if you're feeding a crowd, so just double/triple/quadruple the ingredients as necessary!