Classic Creamed Spinach – comfort without the cream!

Finally I post again.  I have quite a backlog of posts but I had to get this up right away – it is a great way to enjoy spinach, even if you don’t like it very much.  And, for those of us who do like spinach, this recipe compliments, rather than masks the flavor.

I was looking for a creamed spinach recipe to go along with my favorite Garlic Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters. I had some sweet potatoes I needed to use up and wanted some greens for contrast, but also wanted a more “comfort food” texture than  steamed veggies.

As I perused the Internet, I found many recipes that looked very tasty, with heavy cream and nutmeg often featured.  But, I didn’t want use cream so as to save a few calories.  And, I’ll go for shallots over onions almost any time.

Finally, I found the following recipe for creamed spinach, courtesy of sgrishka via Bigoven.

Classic Creamed Spinach

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk, warmed
2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated (optional)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Coarse salt, to taste

Remove tough stems of spinach. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander and drain. Using the back of a large spoon, press spinach to release as much water as possible, then chop coarsely.

Using a medium sauté pan over medium heat, heat the butter. Sauté shallots until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Using a wooden spoon, add the flour and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Slowly add warm milk and simmer, whisking, 3 to 4 minutes to thicken. Whisk in cheese (if using) and nutmeg, season with salt and pepper. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

NOTE:  I used a 10 oz bag of fresh spinach and halved the ingredients.  Next time, I’ll use two bags – Steve and I won’t have any trouble eating twice as much, next time.  🙂
I especially liked the addition of a pinch of cayenne.  It gave a nice little bite to it, and also inspired me to add cayenne to my sweet potato.  Now, there is an easy and nutritious side dish!  Here is how I prepare sweet potatoes, or as they are often called in the USA, yams.
After rinsing them off, I foke a few holes in them and cook them on high in the microwave for about 5 minutes per potato.  [NOTE: I prefer to roast them at 400 in the oven for about an hour – maybe 45 minutes, but when in a hurry, nuking sure is handy.]  Let cool a bit, then peel and mash, in a bowl or saucepan, adding some olive oil and a bit of water to make less dense and also add  maple syrup, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and a touch of cumin and cayenne, to taste and your liking.  I usually add enough water to give the mashed sweet potatoes a texture closer to mashed butternut squash.   I also usually mash potatoes or squash in the top pan of my double boiler so I can then keep them warm while I finish preparing the rest of the meal.
Anyway – this combination of the garlic chicken, creamed spinach, and mashed sweet potatoes was excellent. Definitely a keeper at our house.  And, for vegetarians, I can see something made with tempeh or lentils going well with the vegetable dishes.  Something for everyone.  🙂