Frugal Foodie Mama: Italian Inspired Creamed Spinach

Monday, January 24, 2011

Italian Inspired Creamed Spinach

So, I am looking in my fridge this evening and find that I have half a tub of marscapone cheese, half 'n half that goes bad next week, and 3/4 a bag of fresh spinach.  Sounds like the makings of a creamed spinach recipe to me!  The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it is FLEXIBLE.  If you don't have this, substitute that.  If you don't like A, add B instead.

To start this yummy side dish (or if you are a veghead, this can easily be a substantial main course!  Just add some good Italian bread.), melt about 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan.  As soon as the butter is almost melted, add in 2-3 tbsp. of flour.  Whisk together.  Then add in about half of a small container of half 'n half (you know, the creamer you use for your coffee!).  Keep whisking!  :)  To fill out the cream base you can add some heavy cream like I did.  If you don't have any heavy cream in the house, add in about a 1/2 cup of milk instead.  If you add milk instead of cream, I would whisk in another tbsp of flour to keep the sauce thicker.  Last, add in about 4 oz. of marscapone cheese.  Marscapone cheese is an Italian cream cheese.  If you can't find it, then feel free to use regular cream cheese.  Whisk the cream mixture until smooth.  Take off heat and set aside. 

In a large frying pan, heat 2-3 tbsp of olive oil.  Add about 2 cloves of garlic, minced (add more if you love garlic!) and about half of a medium onion, chopped.  Saute for about 3 minutes.  Add an entire bag of fresh spinach and 1/3 cup of water.  (If you don't have fresh spinach, you can use frozen- just omit the water!)  Since I only had 3/4 a bag of fresh spinach, I also added about half a bag of fresh arugula.  It gave the dish a nice peppery bite.  Feel free to experiment with your greens!  Add some kale or collard greens if you would like.  Salt and pepper the spinach and cook down until the leaves are limp. 

Add the cream mixture to the sauteed spinach.  Add a couple of handfuls of grated Parmesan.  Stir until heated thoroughly.  Taste your creamed spinach!!  Need more salt?  Add it.  More pepper?  Add it.  Some people like a sprinkle or two of nutmeg in their's.  Want a little spice?  Add a little red pepper flakes or some cayenne pepper.  ;)  Bon appetit!