This dish makes creamed spinach the main event rather than a decadent side. This version is actually less indulgent as well. It incorporates milk instead of cream and uses pasta and its starch as a thickener.
The original article actually states that classic creamed spinach isn’t that good. I love creamed spinach! For years, my husband and I used to celebrate his birthday at a steakhouse- the creamed spinach saved me. (I’m not a steak fan!)
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I used loads of fresh greens from my CSA share rather than frozen chopped spinach. We ate it as a vegetarian main dish (with roasted CSA veggies on the side) but it could also be served as a hearty side, of course. Creamy and filling.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
5 cups whole milk, plus more as needed (I added an additional cup of 1% milk)
1 pound stemmed and sliced fresh greens (I used a combination of kale, collard and cauliflower greens) OR 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
2 wide lemon peel strips
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
dash of red pepper flakes, optional
10 to 12 ounces ditalini, orzo or pearl couscous
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
If using fresh greens, stem, slice, and wash them.
Place the greens in a steamer basket in a large pot (I used a pasta pot); cook until wilted, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Strain the steamed greens to drain as much excess liquid as possible. (I used a ricer for this task.)
Chop the steamed and strained greens; set aside.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 4 minutes.
Add the 5 cups milk, chopped greens (or spinach), lemon peel, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, if using, freshly ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the greens (or frozen spinach) with your spoon, until the greens have softened and the milk is just simmering, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the pasta and cook, stirring often and vigorously, until the pasta is al dente, 20 to 25 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. If it looks dry at any point, add more milk. (I ultimately added an additional cup of milk.) The mixture will continue to thicken as it sits, so it’s okay if the sauce looks a little soupy.
Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, discard the lemon peels, and stir in the Parmesan until melted.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with more Parmesan.
This was a belated side dish to add onto my husband’s celebratory birthday meal. We love drawn out celebrations. 😉 (We also wanted to spread out our indulgences!)
This classic recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com; I modified the proportions and method. I may add shallots instead of yellow onion next time. It was fabulously rich and delicious.
Yield: Serves 6
2 to 2 1/2 pounds fresh baby spinach or regular spinach, tough stems discarded (I used baby spinach)
1 3/4 cups whole milk and/or heavy cream (I used 1 cup whole milk & 3/4 cup heavy cream)
1/2 of a large onion or 1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Wash your spinach well but no need to spin or pat it dry.
Place spinach in a large pot over high heat. (I used a pasta pot without the insert.) Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes for baby spinach and 4 to 6 minutes for regular spinach.
Press or squeeze out the excess liquid any number of ways, either by using a potato ricer (my favorite method), wringing it out in cheesecloth, putting it in a mesh strainer and pressing the moisture out with a spatula or large spoon or letting it cool long enough to grab small handfuls and squeezing them to remove as much water as possible.
Coarsely chop the wrung-out spinach.
Wipe out large pot so you can use it again. (I actually used a medium saucepan instead.)
Heat milk or cream in a measuring cup in the microwave or in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm. Keep warm. (If using the microwave, heat the mixture immediately before using.)
Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic in butter in your wiped-out large pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about six minutes.
Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, about three minutes.
Add warm milk or cream in a slow stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking, until thickened, three to four minutes.
Stir in nutmeg, chopped spinach, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until heated through.
Do ahead: Creamed spinach can be made one day ahead and chilled, covered then reheated over moderately low heat until hot. However, it really tastes best eaten immediately.
If I didn’t need to watch my waistline, I would eat creamed spinach every night. It is SO GOOD! 🙂 Sometimes the recipe is over the top. This version seems to offer just the right amount of decadence. We ate it with Baked Mustard Chicken as part of my husband’s birthday dinner. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by David Walzog of Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C.. Wonderful!
2 1/2 to 3 pounds fresh spinach, large stems discarded
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon avocado or extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup water
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. Add the spinach by the handful and cook over moderately high heat, stirring often, until wilted, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the spinach to a colander and squeeze it as dry as possible. Chop the spinach.
Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil in the saucepan. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the cream; cook until reduced by half, 6 to 7 minutes.
Add the butter and swirl to incorporate.
Stir in the Parmesan and cook over low heat for 2 minutes.
Add the spinach and water, season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat until the spinach is coated with the thickened sauce, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Make Ahead: The creamed spinach can be refrigerated overnight; rewarm over moderately low heat.
We LOVE LOVE LOVE creamed spinach. I wish that I could honestly tell you that a lighter version of creamed greens was a match for the real deal. Several weeks ago, I modified a “light” version of creamed spinach by making it with kale. It was tasty….. BUT….. after indulging and making steakhouse creamed spinach, there really was no comparison. Adding shallots to the “light” version may make it a closer match. (Making it with spinach may help too!) I can’t indulge on creamed spinach as often as I would like so it is nice to have a lighter alternative. 🙂
Steakhouse Creamed Spinach
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Hugue Dufour
Yield: Serves 8
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 pounds trimmed spinach (not baby spinach)
4 large shallots, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 425º. In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the spinach in large handfuls, letting each batch wilt slightly before adding more. Cook the spinach over high heat, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 7 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a strainer set over a large bowl to drain. Let the cooked spinach cool slightly, then squeeze out all of the excess water from the leaves.
Wipe out the saucepan, then use it to melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.
Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 3 minutes.
Add the heavy cream and bring just to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Stir in the salt and season lightly with pepper.
Fold the spinach into the cream sauce and scrape the mixture into a buttered 1 1/2-quart baking dish. (I used 3 medium and 1 small ramekin) and bake the creamed spinach for about 15 minutes, until bubbling and the sauce is thickened. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
“Lighter” Creamed Kale
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living
2 pounds fresh kale (or spinach), washed thoroughly
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk
Cook greens in a large pot with 1/4 inch water until steam has collapsed leaves, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and squeeze out liquid. Coarsely chop.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and some pepper. Stir for 1 minute. Whisk in milk, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Fold in chopped spinach.