Each spring, when the farmers market first opens for the season, I excitedly visit my favorite vendors to see if they’ve begun to sell spinach. I enjoy its mild flavor that complements many dishes well and coupled with its nutritional benefits, I try to sprinkle into as many meals as I can.
Did you know spinach is a great source of magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin c, vitamin k, manganese, and folate/folic acid? Or, oddly enough, that it’s also high in protein? Pretty great, huh?! Besides the powerhouse of nutrients that spinach contains, one of my favorite things about this dark leafy green is that it’s so mild that it doesn’t phase the kids – they eat it up in whatever I seem to add it into.
I’ve tried to grow my own spinach many times; however, with our sporadic temperatures that we have in Iowa, I never seem to get a decent harvest before the weather warms and the spinach starts to bolt. This year I’m trying an heirloom chard variety called perpetual spinach which is supposed to be just as mild as spinach with a similar look and texture. Since it’s a chard variety, it should grow all season long. I’m excited to see how well it does and how it tastes in our meals. I’ll make sure to update you as it grows.
Creamed Spinach, Sausage, and Potato Casserole
One of my favorite side dishes to make with the seasons first local spinach is creamed spinach. I’ll start by lightly sautéing some diced onions with a couple pats of butter before whisking in a bit of flour and milk. Once brought up to a soft boil, constantly whisking, the sauce thickens to a beautiful bechamel. I’ll then add in a few handfuls of spinach and as it wilts, finish it off with a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano cheese.
It’s truly simple to make so with that in mind, I decided to bake a creamed spinach, sausage, and potato casserole for a simple and complete meal. The sausage was truly special in this meal, made of ground pork and seasoned with green onions that I purchased from my family farmers. It gave the meal a delightful flavor that complemented the bechamel quite well – mild and savory with just the right amount of creaminess – not too heavy, just right.
To finish off the dish, I topped it with homemade breadcrumbs and the seasons finest feta cheese.
Swoon worthy! My kids are still little but there were no leftovers after this one 😉
The creamed spinach, sausage, and potato casserole is a humble meal... mild and savory with just the right amount of creaminess - not too heavy, just right.
- 2 tbls butter
- 1 yellow onion (1 1/2 cups), finely diced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 3 large handfuls spinach
- 1 lb ground pork seasoned with green onion
- 5 medium potatoes, diced
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
- feta cheese to top
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- In a skillet or cast iron pan, melt the butter and add the onions and salt. Lightly saute the onions until they just start to turn transluscent; 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes or until it just starts to brown. Slowly, whisk in the milk and bring to a soft boil, continuing to whisk until the mixture thickens to a sauce.
- Once the sauce has thickened, add in the spinach and mix it in until it just starts to wilt; 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and place into a 9" x 13" casserole baking dish.
- In the same skillet that you cooked the bechamel and spinach, brown the ground pork. Once browned, add to the baking dish.
- To the baking dish, add the potatoes and mix everything up together. Once mixed, top with the breadcrumbs and feta cheese.
- Bake at 375F, covered, for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
If you can't find green onion seasoned ground pork, make your own by adding 2 tbls dried green onions, crushed, 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced, and 1 tsp salt.