Is Thanksgiving really under two weeks away? How can that be? The Fall is whipping by isn’t it? At least the weather is finally starting to match up with the season. This morning my lawn is covered in frost and somehow, I am ok with that knowing we have had a very, very good run with warmer than normal temperatures.
It has been awhile since I shared a savory recipe and I think you are really going to enjoy today’s Quinoa, Spinach and Artichoke Casserole. My recipe is a sight modification of one I found in the cookbook, Home on the Range by Molly Yeh. My friend, Joan gave me the book about a year ago as a gift when I hosted a birthday luncheon for a mutual friend here at my home. I was so touched as it was such a lovely hostess gift to receive. Molly, a Julliard graduate with a degree in percussion had been a roommate of Joan’s son while they were both living in New York.
Molly now lives with her fifth-generation farmer husband on the North Dakota-Minnesota border and writes the blog mynameisyeh. Her culinary perspective is eclectic and her cookbook is filled with fun recipes that are inspired by her combined Jewish and Asian heritage mixed with her current surroundings and her husband’s childhood favorites. Other recipes I have tried from her cookbook include a Spinach and Feta Rugelach and the most amazing Roasted Rhubarb Malabi which is a dessert with a pistachio crust base, a creamy coconut pudding in the middle and a topping of fresh rhubarb mixed with sugar, lemon zest and some vanilla paste and then roasted and cooled. Yummy!
But I digress.
Molly’s original recipe for this casserole or as she calls it, Hot Dish, is her riff on the traditional casseroles of her husband’s youth. You might remember those famous recipes that used a can of soup to bind everything together? That was the inspiration but don’t worry, canned soup is not an ingredient in this dish!
Leeks are sauteed in some butter, along with green onions and garlic. Chopped spinach is added and then some traditional ingredients to create a white sauce. Cheddar, Gruyere and Ricotta are added along with some defrosted artichoke hearts and some freshly ground black pepper. A few dashes of tabasco cuts through the richness. Previously cooked off quinoa is folded in and the dish is topped with a combination of parmesan and panko before being baked until golden brown. You can make it a day ahead and rewarm it at serving.
I added more cheese, including some Gruyere to Molly’s original recipe. I also amped up the spinach and instead of peas (which my chief taste tester has an aversion to unfortunately), used some frozen sliced wild mushrooms I found at Whole Foods. I settled on frozen artichoke hearts in my final recipe.
I made the modified version to serve to some friends just last night and it went over really well. I think it would make an ideal vegetarian main course or it could serve as a side dish to a roast chicken or tenderloin. It’s a potluck homerun or you can serve it at Thanksgiving!
Either way, I think you are going to really enjoy this one. If you make it, please let me know what you think! Hats off to Molly for the inspiration!
And ps, my second “In Conversation” will be next week so be sure to stop back. She’s not a chef, but someone very fun in the creative world here in Boston who I think you are going to really enjoy! Stay tuned!