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Creamed Spinach

CREAMED SPINACH IS A STEAKHOUSE TRADITION—a comforting, elegant side that sits perfectly between a juicy rib-eye and a fluffy baked potato. Want to skip the steakhouse? Making creamed spinach at home is as simple as wilting big leaves of fresh spinach, mixing them with a rich béchamel sauce (a white cream sauce, infused here with a bit of garlic), and stirring in some Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s a delicious dish that’s worth staying in for.

Need to Know


The spinach Choose big, crinkly leaves of mature spinach; they’ll hold up in the cream sauce better than baby spinach. Remove any tough stems or damaged leaves and rinse the spinach two or three times to get rid of any grit.

The sauce Made with butter, flour, milk, and cream, béchamel is what holds the spinach together and gives it that silky richness. For creamed spinach with subtle garlic notes, infuse the cream and milk with garlic before making the sauce.

The tool Freshly grated nutmeg and Parmigiano pack a lot more flavor than pre-grated alternatives. Grate them yourself for better-tasting creamed spinach. You can use a box grater for both-grate the cheese on the small holes, and use the little crown-shaped protrusions for the nutmeg.

Tool Kit

Have these kitchen essentials on hand before you start the recipe:

• Liquid measuring cup• Colander
• Chef’s knife• Dishtowel
• Measuring spoons• Cutting board
• Box grater• 1-quart saucepan
• Dry measuring cups• Whisk
• 6- to8-quart Dutch oven


Drain thoroughly Excess liquid will dilute the béchamel sauce, so drain as much from the wilted spinach as possible. While it’s in the colander, firmly press the spinach a couple of times with a dishtowel (but don’t squeeze it to death); then blot the spinach again when it’s transferred to a cutting board.

classic creamed spinach

• Whisk

With a subtle infusion of garlic and a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano, this creamy side dish holds its own against the steakhouse competition.

Serves 4 to 6

2 lb. fresh spinach (mature crinkly leaves, not flat baby leaves), stems removed

Kosher salt

½ cup whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

3 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg

½ oz. (1 Tbs.) unsalted butter

1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. all-purpose flour

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Wash the spinach thoroughly using 2 or 3 changes of water, but don’t dry the leaves. Set a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add half of the wet spinach to it. Season with ¼ tsp. salt, cover, and steam, tossing frequently, until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a colander in the sink and repeat with the remaining spinach.

Allow the spinach to cool in the colander for several minutes. Using a clean, folded dishtowel, press down on the spinach to remove as much water as possible. Let the spinach rest for a few more minutes and then press again to remove more water. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board, blot again with the towel, and chop very coarsely.

Put the milk, cream, and smashed garlic in a 1-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; then immediately remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. With a fork, remove most of the smashed garlic from the cream mixture, pressing the garlic against the side of the pan to squeeze out the cream. (It’s fine if small pieces of garlic remain.) Transfer the cream mixture to a liquid measuring cup and add ½ tsp. salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a big pinch of nutmeg.

Wipe out the saucepan. Melt the butter in the pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until pale and smooth, about 1 minute.

Whisk in the cream mixture in a slow, steady stream. Raise the heat to medium and simmer the sauce, whisking constantly, until it thickens and reduces slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Return the chopped cooked spinach to the Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Add the sauce and stir to combine. Add the Parmigiano and mix well. Continue to stir constantly until the spinach is hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper and serve immediately.


It is a quote. Fine Cooking Magazine February / March 2011

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