Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vintage Cuban Recipe: Spinach Casserole

Cuban spinach casserole
The following recipe dates back to pre-revolutionary Cuba and even further back in time. Very mild in flavor like most comfort food tends to be, it is nevertheless quite satisfying and filling, as well as high in protein and vitamins. In short, it satisfies the body and the soul.

Called "Pudín de Espinacas" (or "spinach pudding") in Spanish, its texture is well-set and firm rather than creamy or custard-like, which is why I call it a casserole rather than a savory pudding. It's shown here served with herb-seasoned grilled pork chops and savory pumpkin puree, another classic Cuban recipe. Because of its gentle spinach flavor, Cuban Spinach Casserole pairs very well with robust entrees like grilled or roasted meats and poultry, or even steak. If you want, feel free to splash it with a good steak sauce or good ol'-fashioned Worcestershire sauce.

3 cups cooked spinach*, well-drained
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs diced onion
2 Tbs flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 cup milk (I use skim; you can use whole or low-fat)
1 Tbs dry white wine
3 large eggs

*I began with approx. 1 1/2 lbs frozen spinach, which cooked down to 3 cups. You can substitute other greens for up to half of the spinach, if you'd like.

Pudin de espinacas, Cuban baked spinach
Pudín de espinacas, fresh out of the oven
Squeeze out as much water as you can from the spinach. Place the spinach, along with the flour, salt, pepper and milk, in a blender or food processor and puree to desired consistency, either well-chopped (that's how I like it) or smooth (more elegant but takes longer). Melt the butter in a large, deep pan over medium heat, then saute the onion until tender and translucent. Add the spinach puree and cook, stirring regularly, until thickened. Reduce heat and stir in the wine. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

As the spinach mixture cools, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Slowly add the spinach mixture to the eggs -- I use a large serving spoon and stir well after each spoonful. Continue to stir until the eggs are thoroughly incorporated into the spinach mixture. Pour a couple of cups of water into an oven-safe pan and place in oven (this will keep the casserole from drying out as it bakes), then preheat oven to 375°F and grease a medium to large casserole dish. Pour the spinach-egg mixture into the greased dish and bake until set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 45 to 60 minutes depending on the size of your casserole dish. Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes before cutting into wedges or slices for serving. Makes about 6 servings.

Zestfully yours,
PS: If you're looking for more vegetarian recipes or Cuban recipes, be sure to follow the Carolina Sauce Company on Pinterest where you'll find boards devoted to those and other kinds of recipes.

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