Creamed spinach is a super easy and delicious classic vegetarian dish found in steakhouses all over the world. Especially popular in South Africa. In under 30 minutes, you can have your own restaurant-quality version.
Although spinach is 90% water, it contains 4% carbohydrates and 3% protein.
It only contains 23 calories per 100g portion and contains a with a wide range of vitamins and minerals as well as fibre.
Raw spinach is known to contain high levels of oxalates. Oxalates may block absorption of calcium and iron.
Cooked spinach has lower levels of oxalates and are much easier to digest.
- Spinach - I used fresh young spinach in this recipe but you could also use frozen, large spinach or baby spinach. Don't use tinned spinach.
- Shallots - If you don't have shallot just replace them with onion.
- Butter - If making a vegan version use olive oil instead.
- Cream - Double cream makes it extra delicious. Again if making a vegan version replace with a dairy free alternative like oat milk.
- Nutmeg - Optional but extremely nessesary for the best flavour.
- Herbs - I use parsley. You could also add chervil, basil or chives.
- Pick the leaves of the spinach stalks and give it a good wash. Spinach is a sandy and failing to wash it properly will result in a gritty result. So wash it good and proper with some normal clean drinkable water.
- Chop the shallots and garlic. Here is a small tutorial on if you want to know how to chop shallots properly.
- Sweat it down in a pan with butter and olive oil until soft, sweet and translucent.
- Add the flour to the softened shallots and cook for 30 seconds more.
- Add the milk, cream, nutmeg, pepper and chopped parsley.
- While the shallots are slowly cooking. Steam the spinach. If you do not have a steamer basket there are a few other ways to cook the spinach. You could blanch it, microwave it or chop it up and put it straight into the pan. Just remember that spinach is bulky in terms of volume but when it cooks it shrinks a lot. I steamed mine in three batches for 1 minute each time or just until it wilts. The next best way is to cook it in a microwave. Use a microwave-safe bowl or container. Add the washed and picked spinach to it and cover with either plastic wrap or a lid. Microwave on high until cooked.
- Once cooked squeeze out the excess water and chop it up so you don't have long strands of spinach.
- Bring all of that to the simmer while mixing, making sure the flour is cooked and the mix is homogenous.
- Add the chopped spinach and give it a good mix.
- Add a final fresh grating of nutmeg, maybe a squeeze of lemon juice and adjust the seasoning if you want. Serve straight away or store for later.
Tips for success
- Use fresh spinach for best results.
- Add the salt when frying the shallots or onions. Salt draws out moisture which prevents them from caramelising before they're cooked. We want them to stay pale.
- Do not overcook your spinach and make sure to squeeze out the excess water before adding to the pan.
- Add a splash of lemon juice and freshly grated nutmeg at the end of cooking to lift the flavour to a whole new level.
- For Keto creamed spinach - Remove the flour and make sure the spinach is squeezed extra dry. Replace the milk part with cream and reduce until desired consistency is achieved. Voila! Keto creamed spinach!
- Vegan creamed spinach – Replace the milk with oat milk and remove the cream. Reduce the flour to 10 grams. Voila! Vegan!
- Appetizer - As a dip with some toasted rye sourdough bread or flax wholemeal sourdough. Add some cooked marinated artichokes for a creamed spinach and artichoke dip.
- Creamed spinach soup - Add some vegetable or chicken stock, blend and adjust consistency, even add some blue cheese if you like.
- Pasta - Stir through some homemade pasta(or store-bought) for a simple and quick vegetarian meal.
- Side dish - Perfect with grilled or chimichurri steak, lamb koftas, Crispy pork belly or grilled angelfish. And don't forget this family recipe for roasted leg of lamb.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, Just make sure to squeeze out as much water as possible and reserve that water for later in case you need it to adjust the consistency.
No. Tinned spinach had the life cooked out of it and you would essentially just be consuming a nutrient-free substance with inferior taste and quality.
Yes, by storing in a vacuum pack bag or airtight container for up to 6 months.
For up to 4 days covered airtight in the fridge.
Use non-dairy milk instead of cream.
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South African Creamed Spinach
- I used fresh young spinach in this recipe but you could also use frozen or large spinach. I do not recommend using tinned spinach.
- Tinned spinach had the life cooked out of it and you would essentially just be consuming a nutritious free substance with inferior taste and quality.
- Wash the spinach extremely well under cold running water to remove any dirt.
- Chop the shallots and garlic.
- Next, sweat it down in a pan with some butter and olive oil until soft, sweet and translucent.
- While the onions are slowly cooking. Cook the spinach. There are a few other ways to go about cooking the spinach. You could blanch it, steam it, microwave it or chop it up and put it straight into the pan. Just remember that spinach is bulky when fresh but cooks down to almost nothing. Keep that in mind when deciding how to cook the spinach. I steamed mine in three batches for 1 minute each time or just until it starts wilting.
- Add the flour to the onions and cook for 30 seconds more.
- Next add the milk, cream, nutmeg, pepper and chopped parsley.
- Bring all of that to the simmer while mixing making sure the flour is cooked and the mixture is homogenous. Remove from the heat and let it rest on the side for a bit while you deal with the spinach.
- Once cooked the spinach will still have plenty of water in it. I prefer squeezing out as much water as possible and then using that water later on to adjust the consistency of the creamed spinach. Once squeezed out, chop it up roughly.
- If you skip this step you will end up with long strands of cooked spinach which will most likely force you to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on someone or someone on you. Not pleasant so chop it into something manageable.
- Finally add the spinach and give it a good mix. Adjust the seasoning if you want and serve straight away.
- Fresh spinach(baby or normal) works best. Frozen also works but make sure to squeeze out all the water first. Tinned spinach will not work.
- If you do not not have shallots or can’t find them just substitute for normal onion.
- Use gluten free flour for making a gluten free version.
- To make it vegan omit the butter and replace with a plant based oil. Replace the dairy(milk and cream) with a nut milk or other vegan alternative like rice milk or oat milk.
- Once cooked it can be cooled down and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days sealed airtight.
- For longer storage in can be frozen for up to 6 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stove or in the microwave.
- Can be blended with marinated tinned artichokes to make a spinach and artichoke dip.