Even died-in-the-wool spinach lovers are amazed the first time they eat spinach cooked this way.
This creamed spinach stands as a perfect example of a new way of cooking vegetables. It is only an added dollop of cream that contributes a simple delicately that banishes any suggestion of “baby food” while highlighting the true, deliciously green and appealing spinach flavor.
When shopping for spinach, you are likely to see what appears to be two distinct varieties: The one with tiny, flat leaves is best used in salads; the other with large, curly and more substantial leaves withstands the rigors and heat of preparation and is better for creamed spinach.
If you want to gild the lily, simple Béchamel sauce plus a gratin of toasted bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese will make your creamed spinach the highlight of the nicest dinner party.
Makes 4 servings
Cooking time: 30 minutes
2 pounds spinach leaves
2 Tbsp salt – This is for blanching spinach
1/3 cup heavy cream
Salt and white pepper to taste
1. Once spinach is cleaned, bring about 4 quarts water to a boil, add salt, and spinach.
2. Use a long-handled spoon to push down spinach and get all of it into the pot. Cook only until spinach wilts; about 30 seconds.
3. Turn spinach immediately into a colander and rinse under cold, running water until spinach is no longer warm to the touch.
4. Squeeze spinach dry, much as you would squeeze out a dishcloth. If you want chopped spinach, bunch it into rolls and use your cook’s knife to cut across the rolls. If you want a puree, use the pulse function of your food processor. Make a rough puree but be careful not to over process. Then, cover with film and refrigerate until you are ready to finish the dish. Can be easily made a day ahead to this point.
5. To complete the dish: In a medium sauté pan over high heat, reduce cream to about half its volume. Stir in spinach, reduce heat and continue to stir until spinach is warm and all the cream has been absorbed.
6. Serve immediately.
Creamed spinach gratin
An acceptable Béchamel sauce to bind the creamed spinach is quick and easy and can be made in 10 minutes. This link from Elsa’s diary will give you a reliable method, ingredients, plus some delicious insights and enhancements.
Make the gratin of about 1 cup dense bread crumbs toasted in 1 Tbsp butter, cooled and mixed into ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake in a gratin dish or use 6 individual dishes (If you butter them generously and sprinkle a bit of the gratin inside, you will be able to turn them out and serve the little drums unmolded).
Learning to cook creamed spinach to its best advantage could be a cause for celebration: Whether the preparation is simple or just a little fancy, creamed spinach is simply delicious.