We could say that good old-fashioned Spinach Squares are staging a comeback, but they never actually went away. Also called “spinach brownies,”—no, there’s no chocolate—these squares bring to the savory portion of a meal what fudgy brownies bring to dessert. Cheesy-rich and luscious, they invite you to have just one—and then one more.
Stir these up in minutes as an easy alternative to Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie). An appetizer, snack, side dish or even main attraction, Spinach Squares freeze and reheat well. The recipe makes a big batch, so you can serve some and still have enough for another occasion. And they make great finger food, even sneaked cold from the fridge.
Surprisingly, Spinach Squares are more closely related to cake than you might expect. Recipephany Test Kitchens recently deconstructed this recipe in search of its heritage. Looking past the veggies, cheese and all the melted butter in the pan, we concentrated on the batter: flour, milk, eggs, baking powder and salt.
We found that these ingredients, in nearly identical proportions, make up a breakfast classic: pancakes. So Spinach Squares are actually veggie/cheese pancakes baked in sizzling butter. No wonder we’re hooked. Whether we realize it or not, these squares probably tickle our griddled-pancake taste receptors.
These days, chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi (of Jerusalem cookbook fame) punch up veggies with handfuls of fresh herbs and bold spices. But our old-school squares of mellow spinach, sweet aromatics, and sharp cheddar—turned golden brown by the Maillard Reaction fairy—still delight. And as a savory pancake, they give us another excuse to enjoy breakfast all day.
This recipe makes a large batch in a 9”x13” pan. Recipe easily halves—use 2 eggs—for an 8” square pan.
- 6 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2 or 3 scallions, sliced
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 pound of cheddar, grated
- 2 10-ounce or 12-ounce packages chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- Toasted breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a microwaveable bowl, combine one tablespoon of butter with chopped onion, shallot, and scallions. Microwave, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. (Or, sauté in a pan on the stovetop.) Set aside to cool.
- Put 4 tablespoons of butter into a 9”x13”x2” baking pan and place in the heated oven. Remove the pan when butter is just about melted, and set it aside.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs well. Add flour, milk, salt, and baking powder and mix. Finally, mix in grated cheese, drained spinach, and cooled onion mixture.
- Spoon mixture into the baking pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs and dot with the last tablespoon of butter.
- Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes. Let cool about 45 minutes (if you can hold out), then cut into bite-sized squares or larger, depending upon how you want to serve them.
Note: To serve right from the freezer, reheat at 375° for about 20 minutes, or until warmed through. Microwave also works, but the top won’t stay as crispy.