Homesick Texan’s Spinach Queso Blanco recipe and Cookbook Review: Queso by Lisa Fain

Queso coverTexas is pretty awesome. We get maybe 5 days of snow a year. Just enough to be ridiculous. When it does, kids get sent out in redneck sleds (laundry baskets). I saw an excited dad hand his beer off to his friend, and then he took his kayak down a snowy hill. And we have smoked brisket, queso, kolache, and Mediterranean geckos. It’s a good place. About that queso…. Lisa Fain, author of Homesick Texan and Homesick Texan Family Table, just put out a book of nothing but queso, and it’s fantastic!

Here’s the recipe for her Spinach Queso Blanco, so that you can taste the book. A big thanks to Lisa Fain for letting me share it with you!

Spinach Queso Blanco
From QUESO! by Lisa Fain Copyright 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

In Texas, we like to put spinach in our queso when we’re feeling healthy. This version is inspired by the spinach queso found at one of the state’s oldest restaurants, The Original in Fort Worth. If you’re looking to increase your fill of vegetables, this may become your favorite thing to eat.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup whole milk
1 cup water
1 pound white American cheese, shredded
4 Anaheim chiles, roasted (see page 3), peeled, seeded, and diced
Pico de Gallo (page 125), for topping
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced
Tortilla Chips (page 128), for serving

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with the salt and cayenne, then drain the spinach in a colander.

Rinse and wipe out the saucepan, then add the cornstarch, milk, and water and whisk until well combined. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, and cook for a couple of minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the cheese, turn down the heat to low, and cook, stirring, until the cheese has melted. Stir in the spinach and Anaheims. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if you like.

Transfer the queso to a serving bowl, a small slow cooker, or a chafing dish over a flame. Top with the pico de gallo and sliced avocado. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

SPINACH-ARTICHOKE QUESO Stir in 1 cup chopped artichoke hearts before topping with the pico de gallo and avocado.

BACON-SPINACH QUESO Stir in 8 slices cooked and crumbled bacon and ½ teaspoon smoked paprika before topping with the pico de gallo and avocado.

Pico de Gallo
From QUESO! by Lisa Fain Copyright 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press.

Makes 2 cups

This refreshing salsa makes a hearty, lively addition to chile con queso. It’s best the day it’s made, but will last a day or two if kept refrigerated. Leftovers go well with chips and on salads.

2 ¼ cups diced grape tomatoes
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
¼ cup diced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

Mix together the tomatoes, jalapeños, onion, garlic, cilantro, salt, cumin, lime juice, and olive oil until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if you like. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

My review of the book:

Queso coverQUESO!: Regional Recipes for the World’s Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip
by Lisa Fain
Edition: Hardcover

ust like in her books, Homesick Texan and Homesick Texan Family Table, Lisa Fain delivers fantastic food from scratch. This queso book is a fun read. She includes a historical blippet before each of the recipes. If you love cheese and chiles, you’re going to adore this! Outstanding flavor and a great range of queso!

Pictured below:
1) Pico de Gallo – p 125. Vibrant and fresh.
2) Guacamole – p 125. Perfect flavor.
3) Choriqueso – p 65. Fantastic! She has you start by making your chorizo from scratch. Then it gets covered in Monterey jack and takes a quick trip under the broiler. Because it’s made without thinning agents like milk or cream, this one gets spooned into tortillas. This was my kids’ favorite. My oldest daughter woke up the next morning and made it a second time for breakfast.

4) Austin Diner-Style Queso – p 32. Classic queso. Perfection.
5) Chipotle Beef Fajita Queso – p 49. Classic queso with beef fajitas. Great dinner queso. This is quick to make. The queso’s pulled together while the beef is resting after it’s trip through the broiler. This would be a fun one to do outside on the grill, too.
6) Damn Good Queso – p 35. This one was our favorite. Amazing queso. You make a green tomatillo salsa and cook the cheese in that. Then it gets topped with a fiery habanero and red pepper salsa, and topped with guac and queso fresco. Gorgeous flavor.

7) Spinach Queso Blanco with Artichoke and Bacon variations – p 38. Holy delicious. We just had this as a breakfast queso, and everyone loved it. The garlicky spinach and Anaheim peppers make a great flavor base. The avocado, bacon and pico on top make it look holiday festive.Queso6Some others I have flagged to try: Queso Blanco with Green Chile Pulled Pork – p 43 * Rajas Y Elote (Pepper Strips & Corn) – p 66 * Shrimp Queso Flameado with Jalapeño Salsa – p 76 * San Antonio-Style Vegan Queso – p 82 * Indian Queso with Jalapeño Chutney – p 85 * Gulf Coast Crab Queso – p 90 * Green Chile & Cream Cheese Ice Cream Sundaes – p 121

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