Cheesy Baked Spinach

February 15, 2014

Cheesy Baked Spinach

When I was 6 I used to carry a can of spinach around my back pocket, mimicking Popeye.
I would even borrow one of my grandpa's pipes, pretending to gobble spinach through it (sometimes even pretending to suck in the can itself along with the contents) and acting afterwards as if I had become super-strong, flexing my biceps and all.
Then I would set off for great adventures with Bruto, Olive Oyl, baby Swee’pea and stowaway Wimp (all impersonated by my sisters’ old dolls).
Ah, those were the good times...


The funny thing is that I hated canned spinach back then. I thought they were mushy and tasted gross.
I loved fresh ones though, and I would choose mom’s cheesy baked spinach over French fries any day of the week (and twice on Sunday).
My mother was always happy to whip it up for me time and again.
Because - aside from giving me Popeye's strength - spinach is a nutritional superstar, loaded with vitamins and minerals.
When a kid asks for spinach, there’s no way a mother would refuse him.

Cheesy Baked Spinach
Mom’s cheesy baked spinach is an adaptation of Julia Child’s gratineed spinach with cheese. No cream, less butter and more spinach; a fabulous side dish I used to relish.
Cheesy Baked Spinach

Over the years I adapted even more; made it paleo-friendly, gluten-free and a tad lighter.
Just as awesome.
Whenever I found myself with a bag of fresh spinach and not sure what to do with it, I always resort to this recipe. It.Never.Fails.

Cheesy Baked Spinach                                                                                 Print this recipe! 
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Serves 6

3 lbs / 1.4 kg fresh spinach
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder*
1 cup / 250 ml vegetable stock
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (or Dubliner cheese)
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Ground black pepper to taste

*arrowroot powder acts like cornstarch


Stem and wash well the spinach, but don’t dry them.
Place the spinach in your largest pot over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until just wilted, about 4 to 6 minutes.
Drain in a colander.
Immediately fill the pot with cold water and add the spinach to stop the cooking, then drain again.
With your hands squeeze the spinach to extract as much liquid as possible.
Coarsely chop the spinach and set aside.
Wipe out the pot and melt two tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat.
Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes or so, until all of the moisture from the spinach has boiled off and the spinach begins to stick to the pan.
Lower the heat and add arrowroot powder and stir for 1 minute.
Add vegetable stock in three batches, stirring constantly and scraping up any stuck spinach. Add salt and pepper, stir in ½ of the cheese and turn off the heat.
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and butter an 8x8 baking dish.
Pour the spinach into the baking dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and pour it over on top.
Bake until heated through and slightly browned on the top, about 30 minutes.

Nutrition facts

One serving yields 153 calories, 15 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbs and 7 grams of protein.


  1. This looks soooo good!

  2. wow! great baked spinach! never thought it would be so great!

  3. You had me cracking up. My brother used to go around singing that song!! (he would use lettuce most of the time, as we didn't always have spinach on hand...drove my mom nuts).
    Can't wait to try this. Always looking for new side dishes.

  4. I love Popeye! Great recipe, thanks for sharing.

  5. Canned spinach really exist? OMG, gross! I wouldn't even want to taste them. I imagine they must be a little bit like asparagus. Totally alien to what they are supposed to be, look like or taste like.

    And omg what I wouldn't give to see you play "pretend I'm Popeye". Must have been the most adorable, funniest thing ever.

    I must say that this creamed spinach looks pretty yummy. Would you believe me if I told you I never made (or probably had) decent creamed spinach? I think I need to fix this...

    1. They do exist Sonia, look in the canned aisle of your grocery store; you'll be surprised. And you should totally try making creamed spinach, it's one of the best dishes ever (with spinach!)

  6. These looks so yummy. I love spinach.

  7. I'm with Sonia, didn't even realize that canned spinach actually existed!

    My husband and I love spinach, we usually like the sauteed spinach but this just looks too good to pass up. Can't wait to give it a try and totally loving your paleo version. P.S. I have arrowroot on my grocery list. :)

    Krista @ Joyful Healthy Eats

    1. Arrowroot powder is the best, I'm sure you're going to love it!

  8. We made this last night, it was so good and yes, probably the best baked spinach I've ever had. Thanks Mike for another great recipe!

  9. Haha - the image of you as a 6 yr old, walking round with a pipe with spinach is too funny! Priceless!
    I used to love the reruns to that show - and my cousin used to think he was Popeye - only instead of spinach,he would get into a tussle with the bushes outside ... boys! :)

    Your are so right Mike, as a parent, I would willingly feed this to my daughter any day over french fries - this looks fabulous! Hope you have a wonderful week!

    1. Hahahaha, your cousin is the best, totally cracked me up

      Hope you have a wonderful week too Shashi!

  10. i was going to make spinach tonight. i might do this! yum!

  11. I love your stories - totally made me smile! We make creamed spinach, but I've been looking for something a bit lighter and this looks like just the trick!

    1. Thanks K, if you make it I'd love to hear a report! :)

  12. Such a great looking side dish Mike! I'm always on the lookout for new recipes to enjoy greens... love that it's paleo-friendly and lighter. Pinning!

  13. Spinach is great, but with cheese? Oh swoon, it's perfect!

  14. My mouth is watering!

    xo Jennifer

  15. We made this last night: YUMMYYYYYY!!!!!!
    Thanks for sharing

  16. it's in the oven right now, and so far it looks and tastes wonderful! thanks for the recipe!

  17. This looks great - I will make this soon.

    Just an FYI, however, I recommend against filling a pot that was just at medium-high heat with cold water - it could warp your pan. Instead, keep a bowl with ice water ready to shock the spinach, then melt butter in your pan.