RECIPES:
Nov 22, 2021

Creamed Spinach

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
This simple yet rich classic is made with blanched spinach leaves in a creamy mornay sauce. It’s also a great way to use up any wilting spinach on its way out!

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Creamed spinach, a steakhouse favorite, goes well alongside a simple seared steak or as a Thanksgiving side paired with turkey. Pair it alongside roast chicken or seared salmon for an easy weeknight dinner. While nutmeg is traditionally used, I like to add a dash of cayenne for a bit of a kick.

There are plenty of sub-par creamed spinach recipes out there. The sauce should be creamy with a velvety texture, not watery. There should also be a balance of spinach to sauce. Too much of the rich sauce and it can be much more like a dip than a vegetable side. 

Creamed Spinach 

fresh baby spinach or Bloomsdale spinach

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Spinach – I use fresh baby spinach or Bloomsdale spinach in this recipe. If using larger leaves of spinach, I recommend giving them a rough chop before blanching. While two pounds of spinach may seem like a lot, it reduces significantly when blanched. Blanching the spinach helps it maintain its bright green color. Frozen spinach can also be used in this recipe if desired. Simply defrost and drain as much water as possible so as to not water down the recipe. 
  • Butter – I always use high quality unsalted butter that way the level of salt added can be adjusted according to personal preference. 
  • All-purpose flour – The flour is cooked quickly in the melted butter to reduce the flour flavor and to thicken the milk and create the béchamel sauce. 
  • Whole milk – Using a combination of whole milk and heavy cream makes for a smooth, creamy béchamel. Using a non-dairy alternative will change the flavor of the recipe. 
  • Heavy cream – I use heavy cream in addition to the whole milk for added richness. The two can also be swapped for 1 cup of half and half. 
  • Parmesan – The addition of Parmesan to the béchamel turns it into a mornay sauce. Parmesan creates a richer flavor. This cheese can be swapped with another cheese like gruyere. 

How to Make Creamed Spinach

  1. Blanch spinach. Bring a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat to a boil. Add the spinach and blanch until bright green and tender.
  2. Drain spinach. Remove spinach to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the spinach then squeeze out as much excess water as possible.
  3. Sauté the onion. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the onion and sauté until tender and opaque, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Make the béchamel. Add the butter and allow to melt then stir in the flour and let the roux cook for a minute until a pale golden brown. Next, add the milk and cream, whisking to incorporate.
  5. Add cheese. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low, whisking until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and cayenne, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Toss with spinach. Add the spinach, stirring to coat it in the mornay sauce. Serve hot.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

Alternative preparations
  • While you can skip the step of blanching the spinach, opting instead to add it directly to the sauce, and letting it cook down in the pan, I don’t recommend it. Blanching the spinach cuts down the level of oxalic acid which is what gives you the chalky feeling on your teeth when eating spinach. 
  • For a different texture, the spinach can be puréed in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Pulsing the spinach finely chops it before it’s combined with the béchamel. 
  • To add more vegetables, add sautéed quartered mushrooms.
To Make This Recipe Gluten Free 

Swapping with a gluten free flour may keep the mixture from thickening as it should. To make this gluten free I recommend skipping the roux and using cream cheese as a thickener instead of the flour, milk and cream.

Uses for Leftovers 
  • To utilize any leftover creamed spinach, combine it with a bit of cream cheese and mozzarella cheese for a creamed spinach pasta. 
  • Add leftovers to the filling of an omelette or quiche. 
  • The creamed spinach can be frozen for up to a month, then defrosted and reheated in a pan just before serving. 
Creamed Spinach Recipe

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out these:

Thanksgiving side dish ideas

Creamed Spinach

Creamed Spinach Recipe
Print Pin
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Instructions:

  • Pick through the spinach removing any leaves with blemished stems.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat to a boil. Add the spinach and blanch until bright green and tender.
  • Remove spinach to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the spinach then squeeze out as much excess water as possible.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the onion and sauté until tender and opaque, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about an additional 30 seconds.
  • Add the butter and allow to melt then stir in the flour and let the roux cook for a minute until a pale golden brown. Add the milk and cream, whisking to incorporate.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low, whisking until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and cayenne, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add the spinach, stirring to coat it in the mornay sauce. Serve hot.

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