Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Nina, the Pinta, and the Spinach Maria

I couldn't stand spinach as a kid. It was all ick with a side of ewwwwwww.

But now one of my favorite side dishes is Spinach Maria. It's a rich, creamy, yet spicy casserole. It is a perfect sidekick to beef roasts and steaks. Once I even mixed some Spinach Maria in twice baked red bliss potatoes and it was crazy good!

I first found Spinach Maria about 10 years or more ago. It was bundled in an import from Meal Master software. Here is that recipe (now in my BigOven software), Spinach Maria. There's also this alleged knock off of local restaurant, Calhoun's Spinach Maria. It looks good too but I prefer the first recipe for it's simplicity.

Yesterday I tried this version that was in the paper last week from Big Fatty's Catering Kitchen. On restaurant reviews people raved over their spinach maria.

Spinach Maria ala Big Fatty's Catering Kitchen.

8 ounce cream cheese
3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen spinach (thawed, and excess water squeezed out)
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
Salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
granulated garlic

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat cream cheese and whipping cream on low heat and whisk until mixture is smooth.

Add spinach, soup mix and seasonings to cream cheese mixture. Stir until fully combined.
Pour into greased casserole dish and bake for 50 minutes.
It was a lot runnier than ours at this point. I didn't want it to taste better than mine. They used a packaged soup mix for pete's sake! But I have to admit, this was some good stuff, at least just as good as ours;)
We used about 1 teaspoon of each for "to taste" for the pepper, salt, and granulated garlic. It wasn't pretty but it was fantastic. Next time I would cook & serve it in individual ramekins.

The rest of the plate?
Oh, that:) It was a little rib roast that crusted with coarse kosher salt for 1 hour.
[I should have trimmed the fat wedge off before seasoning and cooking, then tied it. That's why part is medium and part is medium rare. Lesson learned.]Then I rinsed it off, dried it, and rubbed it with the cajun beef rub is the same one I used here. Then I cooked it with indirect heat on the Big Green Egg at 350 for just over two hours. The smoke was from Jack Daniels oak chips. I LOVE JD oak chips, they are made from actual whiskey barrells, have a great fragrance and put off a nice smoke. I highly recommend them. The drip pan underneath it catches the drippings for an awesome au jus dipping sauce.I pulled the roast off to rest once it hit 130f internal. I normally like mine more rare but my son's girlfriend is a BAD FOOD PERSON....errrr...I mean she doesn't care for rare or even medium rare (ha ha). So I compromised and did medium rare, the put her cut back on for a few minutes.
The potatoes are roasted red bliss potatoes with garlic & rosemary from this post.

Yeah, not a "Jenny Craig" meal, but I thought of that in advance and ran 3.2 miles at Cherokee in Knoxville earlier that day as a pre-emptive attack:)


  1. Okay, now I have to see if I can find those JD oak chips!!! for my death by BBQ party in late May, lol...or it will be the death of me! Where in the world did you get your green grenade?

  2. So THAT'S what I smelled while driving through Knoxville Saturday night! I should have known!!

    I hated spinach as a kid too. I remember once that Daddy decided that I WAS going to eat the cooked spinach (about every 5 yrs he took a stand on some hated food), I was not allowed to get up until I ate it. Finally at around 9pm he decided he'd been beaten and let me up. Vile stuff, that's what it was to me. But I find I like it used in recipes, especially when it's done in something creamy. I definitely will try this recipe. I think I'll have Mom and Daddy over when I fix it, he'll die!

    By the way, you realize that it's cruel to post those pictures don't ya? Keep it up and next time I'm in Knoxville, I'll be stoppin' in to see what's cooking out back!

  3. I've never had spinach Maria before but I know I would love it. The beef looks outstanding - especially the medium rare part. YUM!

    I wanted to say thank you. I read the nice things you wrote about my blog on KimDeC's blog...thanks - you made my day.

  4. I was also the same.. didn't like spinach, but we ate it, cause that's what you did.. I now love spinach.. actually, I'm the only who eats it here.. I might have to try the recipe.. and maybe cut it in 1/2, since it would be me only!
    Lisa (lisita15)

  5. Yeah, there aren't a whole lot of things in the world that can't be made tolerable by adding fat and salt.

    If I could jump through this computer screen to get at that rib roast, I would.

  6. I too was a spinach hater growing up - despite Popeye making it look super, it just tasted green gross. But I like that your recipe adds cream cheese, and cream cheese makes everything good.

    As for the "bad food eater", I was like that when I was younger. I would say "I like my meat cooked",well, or medium well. But now I can appretiate meat for meats sake. Tasty lookin meal.

  7. As picky as I used to be, I've always adored spinach. I don't get to cook it often because my husband doesn't care for it. Your Spinach Maria looks so rich! I know it has to be better than Calhoun's, although I do order it Calhoun's everytime we're there!

    Gorgeous meal!

  8. My folks didn't care for spinach, so I like it. I do something similar as a dip for New Years, only with mayo to keep it soft. I never thought of making it as a side dish. Nice looking rib roast too.

  9. Hmmm, barbecue, photography, running. You are a great combination of my husband and me! I enjoyed your site thanks to chef E, and will be back!

  10. Spinach is one of my favs! This recipe sounds delicious. I will have to try it someday. Someday being when someone else fixes it for me. LOL... And I love Calhouns too.


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