"No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize." - Julia Child

Monday, January 11, 2010

The ultimate comfort food casserole

Ah winter... the perfect time to indulge in warm, comforting carbs. What more perfect carb for this than the humble but mighty potato? Potatoes are not only incredibly versatile (boil them, bake them, fry them...) but they also lend themselves well to pairing with things you add to them, like shepherd's pie or pierogies.

Years ago my mother clipped a recipe out of a magazine for a potato-spinach casserole. We tried it one year for our Christmas Eve dinner, and it was such a hit that it's made a repeat appearance every year since. The recipe is easy and the end result is delicious. I made some this weekend and figure there's no better way to ring in the new year than with a carb-o-licious recipe.

- 6 to 8 large potatoes
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
- 8 oz. sour cream (you can go low fat), or use 8 oz plain yogurt
- 1 package of frozen spinach, thawed
- 2 tbsp chopped chives, fresh or dried, or in the absence of chives, use a generous helping of onion salt
- salt and pepper to taste
- shredded cheddar cheese

Scrub the potatoes, peel, and cut into small chunks. Add to a pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a rolling boil, then lower the temperature until you get a constant gentle boil. Cover the pot loosely (I just tilt the lid over the pot so steam can escape), and boil for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain. (I find that it's easiest to assemble this dish in the warm pot, as it helps melt the butter and it's easy to mash everything together in the pot.)

Mash the potatoes with a masher, adding chunks of butter as you mash them to help the butter melt and incorporate. Add the salt and pepper (and onion salt, if you're using it instead of chives). Start adding dollops of sour cream and spinach, incorporating into the potatoes with the masher, until you've added them all. Add the chives.

Spray a square casserole dish (Pyrex or Corningware work perfectly here) with nonstick spray and spoon in the potato mixture, spreading it evenly around the dish. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the casserole happily for the day or even overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the casserole into the oven, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with a layer of cheese, then return to the oven for 5 more minutes or until the cheese is melted. Enjoy! The leftovers keep pretty well (covered) for a few days, but I doubt they'll last that long. :)


Jill said...

MMM this sounds SO GOOD! I am bookmarking!!!

Lauren said...

For real. A nicely inexpensive dish, too.

Raquel said...

Enjoy! It is the perfect potluck meal too, because it travels well.