My Recipe Box

How to Make Creamed Spinach

A classic side dish that all cooks should have in their recipe boxes.

by Susie Middleton

fromFine Cooking
Issue 109

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
bechamel sauce
The béchamel sauce thickens as it’s whisked.

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.

Cook’s Tip

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.

Tool Kit

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

• Liquid measuring cup
• Chef’s knife
• Measuring spoons
• Box grater
• Dry measuring cups
• 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven
• Colander
• Dishtowel
• Cutting board
• 1-quart saucepan
• Whisk

Photos: Scott Phillips

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