Do you need a side dish to round out your menu or a dip to take to your next party? Try my Espinaca, inspired by one of my favorite items on the menu at Abuelo’s.
I am a reformed spinach-hater. As a child my only exposure to the green stuff was Popeye spinach at school. Straight out of a can. No further explanation needed.
As a young adult, I discovered spinach salad. It was beautiful and so fresh. Spinach souffle was mighty tasty, too.
Then I ate at Abuelo’s–a very nice Mexican restaurant in these parts where I met up with Espinaca. Sounds like a waitress, doesn’t it? But no. It’s a wonderful Mexican (probably Tex-Mex but I don’t know for sure) version of spinach. It has so many of my favorite things–mushrooms, red bell peppers, spinach, corn and cheese–mixed together and spiced with chipotle sauce.
Chipotle chiles are smoked, dried jalapenos. They can be purchased in a can packed in adobo sauce. Since this stuff is potent and powerful, I drop each individual whole pepper with a portion of sauce onto a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper. Freeze, then remove frozen pepper portions to a zippered plastic bag and return to freezer. Take out only the portion you need and chop finely for this recipe.
- 12 oz. bag chopped, frozen spinach
- 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced or coarsely chopped
- 2 slices bacon, ¼-inch pieces
- 1-2 teaspoons chipotle in adobo sauce, finely chopped (See note)
- ½ onion, finely chopped (approximately ½ cup)
- ¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1½ teaspoons seasoning salt
- 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
- 5 ounces processed cheese, (I prefer 2% Velveeta) cubed
- 3 ounces cream cheese (I prefer reduced fat--can't taste the difference in this recipe)
- ½ cup grated Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese
- Snip small corner of bag of frozen spinach. Place on plate and microwave (still in bag) 3 minutes to thaw. Spinach should still be bright green. Pour into strainer and mash with a spoon to get as much liquid out as you can. Set aside.
- Second: Saute bacon pieces in medium skillet until crispy. Remove and pour off all but the smallest amount of grease.
- Saute mushrooms in same skillet. When brown, add chipotle, onion, bell pepper and garlic, cooking until vegetables are softened. Season with salt.
- Over low heat, add cheese, stirring to melt and combine.
- Stir in corn and bacon. Pour into 1½ quart baking dish.
- Sixth: Sprinkle grated cheese on top and heat in microwave or oven at 350 until heated through and cheese melts.