The Kitchn: Good creamed spinach is a life-changing revelation
There are two types of people in the world: people who love creamed spinach and people who haven’t had good creamed spinach yet. Fortunately, I fall into the former and plan to convert everyone into the latter.
That’s because good creamed spinach is nothing like the spinach you find wilting in a buffet tray. Good creamed spinach is pure luxury for your taste buds. It’s tender cooked spinach swathed in a gentle sauce of aromatics and fresh spices, with just enough creamy half-and-half and grated Parmesan cheese to hold the leaves together in an irresistibly savory sauce.
The best spinach for creamed spinach
Fresh baby spinach is best for making creamed spinach. Because it is already tender and less bitter than full-grown spinach, it requires less cooking and adds a creaminess to the finished dish. I also prefer to use baby spinach, as most bagged varieties are 10 ounces, which is the perfect amount for this recipe. If you’ve got full-sized leaves, feel free to use them — just chop them into bite-sized pieces before proceeding.
Can you use frozen spinach instead of fresh?
Yes! Thaw a 10-ounce package of frozen spinach and drain well. Make the cream sauce and add the thawed and drained spinach until heated through.
Cooking the spinach for creamed spinach
The spinach for creamed spinach needs to be cooked before making the cream sauce. Blanching, a quick dip in a boiling water followed by a cool ice bath, is the preferred method for locking in color and tenderizing the spinach. You could saute or even steam the spinach, but I’ve found that blanching cooks faster and more evenly — especially if you are cooking a large batch of spinach.
However, since both the boiling and the ice bath make the spinach wet, this moisture needs to be squeezed off to ensure a creamy, not watery, creamed spinach. Use the same colander you drained the spinach in to press out the excess moisture before adding the spinach to the cream sauce.
Do I really have to cook the spinach first?