Last Updated on 5 months by Tim
Spinach is a magnificent vegetable. It’s packed with nutrients and the flavor is incredible. I know a lot of people have an aversion to the overcooked, mushy, and bitter spinach porridge they had to eat during their childhood.
So today, eating raw baby spinach as part of a salad is en vogue. Sauteed spinach with garlic also got a lot of love in recent years.
However, my all-time favorite spinach dish remains simple creamed spinach, which I love eating since my childhood.
How to cook the perfect sauce for your creamed spinach
Creamed spinach is one of the favorite instant frozen foods available in German grocery stores. Maybe it has to do with the fact that a lot of people think that this dish is very labor intensive to prepare, whereas, in reality, this is one of the simplest vegetable dishes.
Fresh spinach needs no more than 30 seconds of cooking time and the sauce can also be whipped up in less than 20 minutes. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.
When making creamed spinach, there are basically two options for the sauce. You can either serve it with a béchamel sauce or use nutmeg-infused heavy cream as a sauce for the spinach.
I prefer the béchamel sauce as it gives me greater control on the final viscosity of the sauce and adds a more complex flavor to the dish than plain heavy cream.
Of course, there are also many alternatives that can be used instead of heavy cream to make the dish more interesting. If you’re a fan of crème fraîche or sour cream you could also use that.
Preparing béchamel sauce is simple
To make the béchamel sauce, I sweat some finely minced shallots inside the butter before adding the flour.
Shallots are an incredible addition to this dish and add a subtle sweetness to balance the bitterness of the spinach. You don’t want to substitute regular white onions in this dish, as their flavor is way too sharp.
As always when making a béchamel sauce, add the milk bit by bit while stirring constantly to prevent it from turning lumpy and let the sauce simmer for at least 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.
The final seasoning is always up to you, so add as much lemon juice and freshly grated nutmeg as you think the dish needs.
Why the spinach should be blanched instead of sauteed
There’s a good reason for why I decided to blanch the spinach for this dish instead of just sauteing it until wilted. Spinach can have a really astringent mouthfeel to it.
Astringency is that dry mouthfeel you might be familiar from eating foods such as green tea, rhubarb, or spinach. Blanching the spinach greatly reduces the astringent mouthfeel. In traditional German cuisine, spinach was always blanched for this reason.
Make sure to shock the spinach in an ice water bath after blanching to prevent overcooking it. Then squeeze out as much moisture as possible as you don’t want to dilute your sauce and end up with a watery dish.
I know a lot of people say that you’re squeezing out all the nutrients and flavor from the spinach, however, this dish won’t taste any good with watery spinach.
Combine the sauce and spinach just before serving to preserve the bright color of the spinach and to prevent the dish from turning it into an overcooked mush.
This creamed spinach goes great with some sauteed potatoes and a sunny-side egg on top. You could also enjoy it together with fish or eat it with bratwurst and mashed potatoes.