BARBARA MCCLELLAN

Barbara McClellan

You either do or don’t. It doesn’t matter that it was grown in Spain in the eighth century, is packed with a rich source of iron as well as vitamins A and C and it made Popeye unbelievably strong. If you don’t like spinach, you just don’t. Never mind, we eat enough of it in various forms to keep the spinach growers busy.

We like it raw in spinach salad or on sandwiches. There are many ways of cooking it but our favorite and the easiest is sautéed in olive oil with fresh garlic. Though I prefer to use fresh spinach in cooking, frozen chopped spinach is versatile and convenient to keep on hand.

The first recipe can be a main dish for lunch or a light supper or a good side to go with almost anything.

I had forgotten that it comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, the “Northeast Texas Rural Heritage,” given to me by Susan Moore, who was a member of our women’s blues group, directed by the late Ann Reeves who is a legend in the theater world.

Ann Spencer Mathis’ Spinach Bread

Ingredients

1 loaf French bread

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup chopped onion

1 package (10 ounces) chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry

1 roll (8 ounces garlic cheese spread (or 8 ounces Velveeta processed cheese and ½ teaspoon garlic powder) Note: I have not been able to find the garlic cheese rolls in many years, so that’s how and why I made the substitution)

1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/4 teaspoons Creole seasoning

2 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Steps

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the bread in half lengthwise. Spread the cut surfaces of bread with half stick of butter. Heat the remaining butter in large skillet, add onion and sauté until tender. Stir in spinach and sauté until spinach is heated. Add garlic cheese or Velveeta, and seasonings. Stir until cheese is melted and mixed with spinach mixture. Place bread halves on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Spread with spinach mixture and sprinkle with grated cheeses. Heat in oven for about 8-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Cut in pieces (I cut them diagonally with an electric or serrated knife). Serve hot. Wrap remainder in foil and refrigerate or freeze.

The next recipe comes from the files of one of my closest friends. The late Betty Roberts and I spent many hours together all through our years in Longview. Today is her birthday and I think of her so often though she has been gone from us for over three years.

Betty’s Spinach CasseroleIngredients

4 packages (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach

1 package onion soup mix

1 cup sour cream

2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese, divided

Steps

Cook spinach according to package directions and drain well. Mix remaining ingredients, except for 1 cup grated cheese.

Place spinach mixture in a buttered or sprayed 3-quart casserole (9-by-13 inches). Top with reserved cheese.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes 10-12 servings.

Light Spinach Dip3-4 green onions

½ cup fresh parsley

1 pkg. (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach

8 ounces cream cheese

3 tablespoons dried minced onions

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

4 drops Tabasco

½ cup low fat sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup lemon juice

Chop onions and parsley in food processor. Add spinach and chop finely. Remove from processor and add remaining ingredients to processor. Blend well. Mix in large bowl with spinach mixture. Serve with raw vegetables or crackers.

— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist. Write her in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.