The Goddess loves creamed spinach, but for some reason, she doesn’t make it too frequently. It’s particularly nice with steak, don’t you think? Well, she was serving steak with Bleu Cheese Butter and Mocha-Merlot Sauce with Shallots. So, creamed spinach seemed like a good idea…but then… The Goddess decided that corn and zucchini would be interestingly delicious additions. You know how she just can’t leave things alone. This is such a summer dish. It’s a true make-ahead dish and it’s even better reheated…at least that’s what she thought.
This isn’t very complicated, so don’t be scared off by the list of ingredients.
First you’re going put the shredded squash in a colander. Sprinkle it with salt and toss. The salt pulls the water that “bleeds” out from the squash, but I don’t over salt the squash either. Set the colander over a bowl to catch that liquid. It will take at least 30 minutes, but you can leave it longer.
When ready to add the squash to the pan, drop the shreds onto a clean tea towel and pull the edges up to enclose the squash. Holding the towel, with the squash, over the bowl, twist the towel and squeeze as much “zucchini juice” as possible into the bowl. You’ll probably be surprised by how much liquid comes out. You will need to have at least 1/2 cup liquid, but if there’s more, it’s okay. Reserve the liquid. Don’t pitch it out.
You’re basically going to bind all the veggies together with a béchamel sauce.
So, melt the butter, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook until just barely tender, a couple of minutes. Lower the heat, and sprinkle the cornmeal and rice flour over the onions; stir to combine. Cook until a thick paste forms.
Combine the reserved zucchini juice and creams. Slowly pour the liquid into the onion paste, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook for at least 2-3 minutes to cook the “raw” taste off.
Stir in the spinach and cook until heated through. The mixture should be relatively thick. Remove from the heat source; stir in the cream cheese until melted. Add the shredded zucchini and corn kernels; stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in the cheeses, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes and nutmeg. Taste and correct the seasoning; I usually need to add some extra salt and the lemon juice.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle with the topping. For the topping, combine the crumbs, nuts and cheese in a bowl; add the oil and stir until combined. Slide the crumb-top casserole into the and bake until browned, about 30-40 minutes. It will be nicely browned and bubbly. It holds the heat like crazy, so I usually let it sit for at least 10 minutes. And that’s it!
It was delicious at room temperature, too…I had some for breakfast! It reheats well, too. I served it with some “Pickled” Fried Chicken…very yummy!
Creamed Spinach with Summer Squash and Corn Casserole
- 1 pound zucchini or yellow summer squash, shredded (about 2 medium)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onion or leeks
- 1 large clove garlic, grated
- 2 teaspoons fine cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons rice flour
- 1/2 cup reserved zucchini liquid
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
- 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 15-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed but not drained
- 2 ears corn, kernels cut from the ear (about 1 large cup)
- 1 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyère cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon piri-piri flakes or cayenne pepper
- A very few gratings of nutmeg (less is more with nutmeg)
- 1/2 cup panko crumbs
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Gruyère
- 1 1/2-2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
Butter a 2 1/2-quart baking dish; set aside. When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the shredded squash in a colander or strainer; sprinkle with salt and toss. Set the colander over a bowl to catch the dripping; set aside for at least 30 minutes. The salt will pull water from the squash. When ready to use, drop the shredded squash onto a clean tea towel. Pull the edges up to enclose the squash. Holding the towel with the squash over the bowl, twist the towel and squeeze as much water as possible into the bowl; you will need to have at least 1/2 cup liquid. Reserve the liquid.
Melt the butter, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook until just barely tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cornmeal and rice flour; stir to combine. Cook until a thick paste forms. Combine the reserved zucchini juice and creams. Slowly pour the liquid into the onion paste, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook for at least 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach; stir until heated through. The mixture will be relatively thick. Remove from the heat source; stir in the cream cheese until melted. Add the shredded zucchini and corn kernels; stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in the cheeses, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes and nutmeg. Taste and correct the seasoning. Scrape the mixture into the prepared casserole dish; set aside.
Combine the crumb topping ingredients in a bowl; sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the vegetable mixture. Bake until browned, about 30-40 minutes. MAKE AHEAD: This can be made ahead; set aside, at room temperature, for up to 2 hours. Or cover and refrigerate overnight; it may take slightly longer to cook when cold.
NOTE: This is a very flexible recipe. You can add sliced mushrooms, sun-dried tomato bits, bacon bits, diced artichoke hearts/bottoms—or any combination of two or more. You can add chopped fresh basil and/or oregano, cilantro or dillweed, though I’ve not done that.
Creamed Spinach with Summer Squash and Corn Casserole Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018. All rights reserved.