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How to Make a Creamed Spinach Side Dish

Made with frozen spinach and heavy cream, this easy yet elegant side dish can be made ahead of time and reheated in the microwave.



I first learned to appreciate a good creamed spinach while working at Sam & Harry’s, a fine dining steakhouse in Washington, DC that was “the place to be” back in the 90s (yes, I realize I’m dating myself). This classic steakhouse side dish of bright green spinach leaves in a rich, cheesy cream sauce might be retro, but it’s one of those dishes that’s so good, it never goes out of style. Making steakhouse-style creamed spinach at home is quick and easy. This version calls for frozen spinach and can be prepared entirely ahead of time, making it perfect for the busy holidays. Pair it with pan-seared steaks, roast beef tenderloin with red wine sauce, roast chicken, or pan-seared salmon.


WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE CREAMED SPINACH



Note that the recipe calls for thawed frozen cut leaf spinach, which is not the same as chopped spinach. If your market doesn’t carry cut leaf spinach, look for frozen whole leaf spinach. (Chopped spinach will work but the texture won’t be as appealing.) If you’d like to start with fresh spinach, you’ll need about 2 pounds baby spinach leaves. Steam and drain the baby spinach, then roughly chop and measure out 2 packed cups.


For the cheese, it’s important to use authentic Parmigiano Reggiano. You can always tell if it’s the real deal by looking at the rind, which is embossed with the name over and over. (If the cheese is already grated, it should be labeled “Parmigiano Reggiano,” not “Parmesan.”)


HOW TO MAKE CREAMED SPINACH


Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat and then add the shallots.



Cook the shallots, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute more. Do not brown.



Add the heavy cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg



Bring to a gentle boil.



Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the cream is thick enough to coat a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes.



Add the cheese.



Stir until melted.



Add the spinach to the sauce.



Stir until evenly combined with the cream sauce.



Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. (If the spinach seems a little watery, cook over medium-low heat until any excess liquid evaporates.) Serve warm.



Creamed Spinach



By Jennifer Segal


Made with frozen spinach and heavy cream, this easy yet elegant side dish can be made ahead of time and reheated in the microwave.


Servings: 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • ½ cup finely chopped shallots, from 1 to 2 shallots

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg, or use ground nutmeg

  • ½ cup finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • 2 pounds frozen cut leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed very dry (see note)


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute more. Do not brown. Add the heavy cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and bring to a gentle boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the cream is thick enough to coat a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Add the spinach and stir until evenly combined with the cream sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. (If the spinach seems a little watery, cook over medium-low heat until any excess liquid evaporates.) Serve warm.

  2. Note: Cut leaf spinach is not the same as chopped spinach. If your market doesn't carry cut leaf spinach, look for frozen whole leaf spinach. (Chopped spinach will work but the texture won't be as appealing.) Some markets carry 1-lb bags and some carry 10-oz boxes; if you can only find the 10-oz boxes, you'll need three of them. If you'd like to start with fresh spinach, you'll need about 2 pounds baby spinach leaves. Steam and drain the baby spinach, then roughly chop and measure out 2 packed cups.

  3. Make-Ahead Instructions: This dish can be made and refrigerated a day ahead of time. Reheat in the microwave, uncovered, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until hot, a few minutes. When reheated, the spinach won't be quite as creamy-looking as it was originally (though the taste will be the same); you can add a bit of cream when reheating to get a creamier consistency, if you'd like.


NUTRITION INFORMATION


Per serving (8 servings)

  • Calories:306

  • Fat:29 g

  • Saturated fat:18 g

  • Carbohydrates:8 g

  • Sugar:3 g

  • Fiber:3 g

  • Protein:7 g

  • Sodium:357 mg

  • Cholesterol:98 mg

Special thanks to Jennifer Segal, for the recipe and images. You can support Jennifer by purchasing her cookbook, "Once Upon a Chef, the Cookbook," featuring over 100 delightful recipes.

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