Of my Holiday Side Dish trio, I’m most proud of The Best (and Simplest) Creamed Spinach. Several years ago I developed a reduced calorie creamed spinach by substituting a light but highly seasoned white sauce for the heavy cream and butter, and that’s the way I’ve been making it ever since… until recently when Dreamfields Pasta asked me to develop a spinach-artichoke pasta recipe.
Riffing off spinach-artichoke dip, I discovered I could make a practically instant creamy pasta sauce by melting light cream cheese and using the spinach and its liquid to thin it. When it came time to re-think creamed spinach, I immediately thought of my instant creamy pasta sauce. My new creamed spinach starts with sautéing garlic to which I add cream cheese, thawed spinach and its liquid, and a little Parmesan cheese for depth of flavor. This classy dish can be on the table in under fifteen minutes, meaning it’ll work for weeknights too.
The Best (and Simplest) Creamed Spinach
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 package (8 ounces) light (Neufchatel) cream cheese
2 packages (16 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, reserving juice
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil, garlic, and nutmeg in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until garlic starts to sizzle and turn golden. Add cream cheese and as it starts to melt, add spinach and its liquid; cook until sauce is thick and bubbly and spinach is tender yet still green, about 5 minutes. Stir in cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.