Side step

This week a friend was kind enough to invite me for dinner.  Of course I volunteered to bring a dish to accompany the roast chicken she was making.  Now, the February challenge has been a real challenge in the side dish department:  no salads, no roasted vegetables,  no crudite with yummy dip.  I have some frozen vegetables, but that wouldn’t normally meet the standard to take to someone else’s house for dinner. I finally settled on a heavily modified version of Spinach, Mushroom and Artichoke Casserole.  I think you’ll see as February wears on that the subsitutions become increasingly plentiful and creative!  Perhaps for the next couple of weeks we’ll think of recipes mostly as inspiration.

The orignal recipe makes enough for 10-12 people and calls for several things I don’t currently have in the house so what you see below differs significantly from the original.  My apologies to Emeril Lagasse for the transformation, but it turned out great!  There are no mushrooms, ricotta or jack cheese in mine.  I had a couple of ounces of reduced fat cream cheese left from something else so I threw that in instead of the ricotta and used mozzarella instead of jack.

Good?  Yes, really good!
Easy? Yep. Just plan ahead since it takes an hour or so start to finish.
Good for Company? Yes. A lovely side for chicken.
Special shopping? Nope. Clearly it lends itself well to subtitutions.

Spinach & Artichoke Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 2-3 oz lite cream cheese (not non-fat)
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 by 8-inch glass or corningware baking dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted.  Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, artichoke hearts, onion mixture,  mozzarella, and feta, and toss to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, nutmeg, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add to the spinach mixture. Add the bread crumbs and mix well. Transfer to the prepared dish and top with a layer of Parmesan. Bake until the casserole is firm and the top is golden, about 45 to 50 minutes.

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