Collard and Spinach Madeleine
Serves 8 to 10. Recipe is reprinted with permission from “The Southern Sympathy Cookbook: Funeral Food with a Twist” by Perre Coleman Magness (The Countryman Press, Jan. 16, 2018). There is something comforting about a creamy baked spinach dish. Spinach Madeleine is a classic Southern version, which, I think, first appears in “River Road Recipes” from the Junior League of Baton Rouge. It adds a little spicy kick, traditionally with jalapeño roll cheese, which is no longer manufactured. My version has an extra layer of Southern flavor with the addition of collard greens into the mix, and replaces the processed cheese with spicy pepper jack.
2 (14-ounce) packages frozen chopped collards
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 green onions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cooking liquid
1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces pepper jack, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
½ cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1. Put the collards and spinach in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the greens in a large colander, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Press out as much liquid as you can from the greens with a spatula or back of a spoon.
2. Wipe out the pot, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add the chopped green onions and cook until they are soft and wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir until everything is combined and you have a thick paste. Slowly add the cooking liquid while stirring constantly, then continue stirring while adding the cream. Stir until the sauce is thick and smooth and bubbling. Stir in the cheese cubes, a little at a time, until melted and smooth. Stir in the salt, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and hot sauce. Stir in the collards and spinach, making sure to separate the greens, and that they are fully coated with the sauce. You can use a fork to separate the leaves, if needed.
3. Spoon the greens into a 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs in an even layer over the casserole. At this point, the dish can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the casserole until heated through and bubbling, about 30 minutes.