ICYMI: Spinach Madeleine Creator Featured in The Advocate

One of the perennial favorite recipes from River Road Recipes I: A Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine, of course, is the Spinach Madeleine. A time-honored culinary tradition no longer limited to just the Baton Rouge area, it may well be that no single recipe has ever reached such national acclaim as our own beloved Spinach Madeleine. In celebration of the 80th reprint of River Road Recipes I coinciding with the 85th birthday of the Junior League of Baton Rouge, local newspaper The Advocate published an article interviewing Madeline Nevell Reymond Wright, the creator of the recipe. Check out the original article featuring Ms. Spinach Madeleine, herself, here!

Advocate Staff Photo by Pam Bordelon. The creator of the Spinach Madeleine recipe, Madeline Nevell Reymond Wright, poses with the 50th anniversary edition of River Road Recipes I.

A History of Spinach Madeleine

It goes without saying that Spinach Madeleine is hands down one of the most famous recipes in the River Road Recipes cookbook series. In fact, Spinach Madeleine was named as one of the Century’s Best Recipes in an article that appeared in the Houston Chronicle in December 1999. For many Baton Rougeans, no holiday dinner would be complete without this delicious dish! In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we wanted to highlight the history of this iconic recipe.

The original Spinach Madeleine recipe is found on page 63 of River Road Recipes I: A Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine.

The original Spinach Madeleine recipe is found on page 63 of River Road Recipes I: A Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine.

The recipe’s creator, Madeline Nevell Reymond, created this legendary recipe by accident.  She was a young and inexperienced cook when she decided to use up a jalapeno cheese roll that she had in her refrigerator by adding it to a spinach dish she was preparing for a ladies’ luncheon.  The result was a dish that became one the most popular special-occasion vegetable dishes in Louisiana.  This is evidenced every year by the empty freezers in the grocery stores at Christmas time after all the frozen spinach packages have been snatched up.

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When Kraft Foods decided to discontinue making the jalapeno cheese roll, which is called for in the recipe, hundreds of distraught cooks called Kraft Foods to protest.   The powers-at be at Kraft were amused by Louisiana’s devotion to their jalapeno cheese roll, but discontinued the product anyway.  Fortunately, the River Road Recipes committee developed a new version of Spinach Madeleine in 2000 so that cooks can still serve this outstanding dish. A lighter version of the recipe appears in River Road Recipes III: A Healthy Collection.

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The recipe is versatile and can be served alone or as a warm appetizer dip with toast points or crackers. Spinach Madeleine also freezes well, so it can be made in advance of hectic holiday dinners! To make sure you have this holiday classic at your Thanksgiving table this year, check out the recipe here!

Spinach Madeleine

Spinach Madeleine, the recipe that put the first Junior League of Baton River Road Recipes Cookbook on the map! This savory and bubbly warm dish is now a wonderful traditional favorite for family gatherings, potlucks and supper clubs all around our great state for 50 plus years.

Spinach Madeleine

Spinach Madeleine can be served as a warm appetizer dip with toast points or cocktail crackers, as well as, a flavorful side dish complimentary to many main dishes. Remember, Spinach Madeleine also freezes well. So consider when preparing, double the recipe and freeze half.

This dish is also a good way to introduce spinach to those who might be reluctant to try green veggies. The blended flavors and spices are sure to please even the most doubtful of picky eaters.

The original recipe calls for a roll of 6 ounce of Jalapeno cheese. Kraft Foods no longer makes the product so we have substituted 4 ounces of Velveeta cheese, cubed, and 2 teaspoons of minced jalapenos!

Spinach Madeleine

  • 2 packages frozen chopped spinach
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onions
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup vegetable liquor (the liquid reserved from cooking the spinach)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon celery salt
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic salt
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons jalapeno, minced
  • Red pepper to taste

Cook spinach according to directions on package. Drain and reserve liquor. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add flour, stirring until blended and smooth, but not brown. Add onion, and cook until soft but not brown. Add liquid slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook until smooth and thick; continue stirring. Add seasonings, jalapenos, and cheese which has been cut into small pieces. Stir until melted. Combine with cooked spinach. This may be served immediately or put into a casserole and topped with buttered breadcrumbs. The flavor is improved if the latter is done and kept in the refrigerator overnight. This may also be frozen.

Serves 5 to 6.