I will be the first to admit, there are some perks to my job. I can bring my baby and my dogs to work and no one minds (except occasionally Sylvan); I only have to “commute” once per week (on market days); and I can call my cookbook obsession a business expense. But definitely the best perk of the job is the food–when vacuum seals break, shucks, gotta eat that pork chop! When we have an overabundance of kale, oh well–time to make kale chips! Or take this week, when I did my final high tunnel spinach harvest. It is time to get the tunnel prepped for summer tomatoes, which means that the spinach (though still going strong) must give way.
The end -of-the-season spinach harvest is something of a “slash and burn” operation. No longer do I work carefully, harvesting leaf by leaf, working to keep stems short or the growing tip of the plant intact. I take it all. When I finish, the tunnel floor is littered with discarded leaves and the beds look as though they have been scalped. A stack of harvest crates 3 or 4 deep are chilling in the cooler, and I know that, at this point in the year, I’ve nowhere to sell that much spinach.
To be honest, that’s ok with me. Now I get to make all of the extravagantly spinach-y dishes that I hold off on all winter. Forget spinach salad, I’m cooking it down by the pound. Tis the season for spanikopita, for spinach soup, for spinach quiche, and for what has fast become a personal favorite: spinach and cheese squares.
Combining large quantities of cheese and spinach (and a healthy dose of butter), spinach and cheese squares may well be the perfect food. I love them in particular for the fact that Andrew, who is normally unmoved by cheese, will sing its praises when it comes in this form. And Sylvan, who normally will not let anything leafy and green pass his lips, will deign to eat spinach that has been heavily laced with cheddar. As the recipe calls for a pound and a quarter of spinach and a pound of cheddar, and because the squares themselves tend to be devoured, not savored, this is not a recipe for your local, organic, small batch cheese. Or for spinach at any other time of year, for that matter! But when spinach is coming out your ears, and you buy a 5 pound block of cheese, this is really the logical next step.
My thanks to the inimitable Carol Waggener, who passed his recipe along to me. Also, if you happen to be gluten free, you can substitute gluten free flour blends for the flour in the recipe. The squares tend to be a bit more gooey, and it it best to let them sit for an hour after baking so that they “set,” but the final product will be none the worse for the lack of wheat.
Preheat the oven to 350
Steam or mic 1 1/4 lbs chopped spinac
Melt 4 Tbl butter in 9×13 baking pan
Beat 3 eggs in bowl
Add 1 short c. Flour, short tsp salt,1 tsp. bak powder
Add 1 c. Half n’ half or mixture half n half and whole milk
Add spinach, 1# grated cheddar, 1-2 T grated onion, 1-2 garlic cloves, spoon or so of salsa, pinch+ of cumin.
(Sometimes I sauté the garlic and onion in butter first, but not always)
Spoon into pan with melted butter
Bake 35-40 min until knife comes clean