I often marvel at the culinary experiences my children take for granted — sushi, capers and smoked salmon on their bagels, Hatch chiles in their tamales, pad Thai when we go out to the neighborhood Thai restaurant. It’s all a wonderful global cornucopia, and these incredible delicacies are part of their everyday lives.
Lattes with vanilla syrup? Dinner at an authentic Basque restaurant with pickled tongue? Ho hum.
I grew up in far, far simpler food times. I can tell you when the first fast-food restaurant came to our town — 1973ish, those golden arches, a new idea to us — and it was a fact of life in a family of 6 that eating out was a very rare event. Four rambunctious children were no treat in a restaurant, not to mention the cost of the meal.
So we relished being invited to dinner to my great aunt’s house in a nearby city. She and my great uncle had no children of their own and were a bit proper by our thinking, so I imagine we were a great big noisy bunch to them, running in and out of the back door, nosing around to see what was in the candy bowl (we fought to be the first in the house to get there), getting in spats with each other (some resolved with fists, back in the day).
My mother tells a great story about my brothers and I at their house one day when I was playing with paper dolls, coloring their dresses or something, and one of my brothers sidled over to give me grief and tease me. I dispatched him quickly with a swift punch, leaving my great aunt agape at the entire exchange. Apparently I had (1.) experienced, and (2.) solved the problem, in under 15 seconds, before she even could form her thoughts. The merits of being a middle child.
And when we finally sat down to dinner at her table, with the good china and the nice silverware, what exotic things confronted us! These were recipes my mother didn’t cook, so by dint of that alone we thought they were quite unusual. My mother was a gifted home cook, so we never lacked for a great meal at my house, but oh, how interesting to taste someone else’s food!
Four dishes remain lodged in my memory from my aunt’s kitchen.
First, her Christmas coconut candies dipped in chocolate. When we learned they had paraffin to help the chocolate set up, we dubbed them “wax balls.” Weren’t we delightful?
Second, her pink divinity. It was so sweet, so airy, so otherworldly…how did she make it? It was nothing like the sweets my mother made. We made fun of it (of course!) and then fought over the last piece.
Third, a divine lemon pudding dessert with sponge cookies and coconut. We called it Lemon Ladyfingers, and I really should attempt to recreate it. And fourth, her Spinach Rice Casserole. There is nothing unique about it, other than the fact we all loved it so much my mother asked for the recipe and made it many more times for us. Cooked rice, a block of frozen spinach, some shredded cheese and eggs — this was easy, everyday stuff that emerged as much more than the simple sum of its parts.
By today’s standards, it is a quiet dish. Perhaps we need a bit more quiet in our lives these days?
Today I bring you Spinach Rice Casserole. Thank you, Aunt Rosita, for your hospitality, the memories, and the recipe.
Priceless, all of them.
I’m suggesting you pair this casserole with Gallo Family Vineyards Chardonnay, a medium-bodied white with some hints of citrus, vanilla and a bit of oak. If you are more of a red drinker, try their Merlot, also medium-bodied but velvety smooth and approachable, with black cherry and plum. It pairs well with lots of food. You can find them in your grocery store (or use their store locator here).
Today’s Sunday Supper recipes
Meanwhile, check out our collection of 20 recipes we have lined up for you today from the Sunday Supper cooks, and our wine suggestions for each of them. If you don’t want Spinach Rice Casserole, choose something else from the menu below that’s going to make memories for you and your family.
- Baked Cavatini by Magnolia Days
- Italian Noodle Casserole by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- German Beef Rouladen by Kudos Kitchen by Renee
- Gnocchi with Butternut Squash and Spinach by Ruffles & Truffles
- Lasagna Rolls by Casa de Crews
- Lemon Risotto by The Messy Baker
- New Orleans Red Beans and Rice Soup by The Weekend Gourmet
- Pan Seared Ribeye with Homemade Compound Butter by Big Bear’s Wife
- Portuguese Steak & Eggs – bife com ovo a cavalo by Family Foodie
- Roasted Garlic Cheese Fondue by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
- Reuben Mac and Cheese by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
- Spicy Pesto Shrimp Primavera by Flavor Mosaic
- Spinach Artichoke Pizza by Life Tastes Good
- Spinach Rice Casserole by Shockingly Delicious
- White Bean Chili with Cheddar Biscuits by Feed Me, Seymour
- Boston Cream Pie by Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch
- Chocolate Pavlova by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Grandma’s Lemon Bars by Alida’s Kitchen
- Mom’s Apple Crisp by Peanut Butter and Peppers
- Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling and Lemon Buttercream by The Redhead Baker
Join us around the family table for #SundaySupper
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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards. Gallo would love it if you connected with them on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube. I enjoy chatting with them on their social media about wine pairings with my recipes; they’re good with an answer if you are waffling.