Creamed Fresh Baby Spinach

Easy and tasty, all-year 'round...

We use baby spinach in many dishes from salads, soups, pasta and risotto dishes, stuffed meats and even omelets and eggs. This young version of spinach is of the immature stage of the mature sturdier textured spinach used in recipes requiring longer cooking times. I think it is important to under-cook baby spinach or add it last in most hot dishes as the texture is lost and somewhat undesirable.

This is why I think baby spinach is too delicate for use in typical creamed spinach recipes but if left with a bite to it, partially cooked and coddled in the cream sauce, this is my preferred way to use this year-round vegetable in such a way. Enjoy!

Creamed Spinach Using Tender Greens
4 to 6 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 slices thick-cut smoked bacon, finely chopped
1 -11 oz cello-box baby spinach, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
7 oz whole milk
1/4 + 2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add 1 tablespoon butter to a 2-quart casserole.

In a medium 3-qt saucepan, cook bacon until light brown rendering fat. Remove bacon, put aside and discard all but 1 teaspoon of renderings. Add remaining butter, onion, garlic and sauté until onion is light brown around the edges. Add flour, stir and cook for a minute or two and stir in the milk. Stir in seasonings and simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of cheese.

Allow to cool slightly and add in bacon. Fold in spinach, one handful at a time tossing just enough to coat. And yes, all of the spinach will fit into the 3-qt saucepan after it wilts a bit from the warm sauce.

Heat casserole dish to melt butter and coat bottom. Spoon spinach mixture into casserole, top with additional 2 tablespoons of cheese and bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until warm. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Allow the spinach to retain a little texture.

Note: If cooked too long, the spinach will become stringy, the sauce runny and overall, the dish undesirable.

Baby Spinach in Cream Sauce sans bacon


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