Easy, cheesy spinach squares are a retro appetizer that make an equally delicious side dish. The squares may be baked ahead and reheated and freeze well, too.
The look of today’s menu item may remind you of a crustless quiche. In this recipe, however, two eggs serve as a binder for the remaining ingredients rather than the foundation of the recipe.
The result is more dense than custardy, and the flavor of eggs doesn’t shine through. Instead, sharp cheddar stars as the savory accompaniment to the hearty helping of spinach for an effortless party appetizer or family friendly side dish.
This recipe is also one of the reasons my kids loved spinach from the time they were toddlers. When cut into small squares, the little bites are deliciously fun finger food.
The bite-size appeal makes the spinach squares a perfect hot hors d’oeurve, which may conveniently be baked ahead. I actually think the dish tastes better when reheated, as the edges become more golden and crisp.
When freezing, I prefer to bake first, thoroughly cool, and then cover well. If you’re making the recipe as a side dish for one or two people, you may wish to freeze a few leftover squares so you can pull them out as needed.
The spinach squares complement virtually any protein, from steak to chicken, fish and pork. They will bolster a bowl of soup or hearty salad, and a generous piece makes a filling lunch.
Similarly, a generous wedge of the baked spinach will serve as a satisfying vegetarian entree. Along those lines, it’s a great dish when entertaining and serving meat as the main entree but one or two who don’t eat meat. The spinach squares can be served as a smaller side for the meat eaters and a heartier portion the vegetarians–just as you’d serve a frittata or quiche for the main dish.
Those who visit my website or read my newspaper column regularly know I love to provide options, and this recipe is no different! As an alternative to the spinach, you may substitute a 10-ounce box of frozen, chopped broccoli. Either way, simply follow the moisture-removing tip to ensure a perfect outcome.
- 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup milk (non-fat is fine to use)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 pound (3 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided (see note)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the moisture from the spinach. To do this easily and thoroughly, my favorite trick is to wrap a clean tea towel around it and, literally, wring it out. (If you have never done this, you will be amazed at how much water is in there!) Then, separate the spinach with two forks or with your fingers.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, milk and eggs with a fork. Stir in the onion, two cups of the cheese, and the spinach.
Spread the mixture evenly in a greased, 12×8 baking dish. (Two 9×5 loaf pans have a similar surface area and you could eat one now and freeze one for later.) Sprinkle with the remaining one cup of cheese, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown on top. (Sometimes, I move the dish to the top rack for the final two minutes or so to brown the top a little more. Just watch closely if you do this, so as not to burn.)
When serving as a side dish, I have occasionally made this with one cup less cheese, and it is also delicious. If you prefer a lighter option, simply add one cup of cheese initially, then top with one final cup before baking.
When freezing, I prefer to bake first, cool thoroughly, and then tightly wrap. The spinach squares may be frozen for 3 months, give or take.