This creamed spinach recipe is easy to prepare and is rich in flavor, without floating in butter or cheese. I make this often for us in the fall and winter when hot, creamy, comfort-food is what we crave.
If you’ve followed my recipe posts for a while, you will have noticed that I use dry vermouth a lot in my cooking; I will also say in those recipes that you can substitute a dry white wine. But let me tell you why I prefer keeping dry vermouth on hand for cooking.
First, flavor. Vermouth is an “aromatized and fortified wine”. So what does that mean? Fortified wines are called such because they are strengthened by the addition of a distilled spirit (most often brandy). Other fortified wines I use for cooking include Sherry, Marsala, Port and Madeira. Aromatized means that it is flavored with herbs and spices; in the case of Vermouth, it’s aromatized with various botanicals (roots, barks, flowers, seeds, herbs, spices). Since vermouth is both fortified and aromatized, it adds a lot of flavor to foods.
Secondly, cost. Not only does vermouth add a lot of flavor (more so than just wine), but it is less expensive to keep on hand than a bottle of white wine. Mr. Saucy and I both prefer red wines for drinking (me forever, and him just recently when I finally convinced him that reds are better for heart health). Since that’s the case, opening a bottle of white wine to use a small amount in a recipe isn’t cost-effective. Vermouth, because it’s fortified, has a long shelf life, while a bottle of wine will go bad within days.
As you can see, with this recipe I have only used a couple of tablespoons of the vermouth. But the flavor difference is distinct and really worth it.
Most recipe I’ve seen for creamed spinach use quite a bit of butter; I have reduced the butter to just what is necessary to create the Béchamel sauce (the cream sauce) for the spinach. I use heavy cream for my sauce, and while it adds some butter fat to the recipe, it’s not as much as using more butter. That said, you can certainly substitute milk, or half and half for the cream.
When making a cream sauce, or Béchamel sauce, the roux is made with equal parts of butter and flour; with the amount of milk used to determine the thickness of the sauce. Since I didn’t want the spinach to be swimming in sauce, I’ve used very little cream. Normally when making a cream sauce, you would melt the butter, add the flour and cook the mixture (the roux), then add the cream. I have added onions and peppers to saute in the butter, before I added the flour.
My recipe calls for red onions and just a bit of sweet red bell pepper, which I use not only for flavor, but for color. I love the pop of reds in the creamy green spinach. Nutmeg, salt and pepper are the only other ingredients.
Not only is creamed spinach fabulous by itself, I’ll give you a “pro tip” about this recipe: I double it because the leftovers are incredible mixed with queso blanco for a creamy spinach cheese dip. You’re welcome. *wink*
Hope you’ll try it.
- 1 - 10 ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons diced red onion
- 2 teaspoons minced red bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- pinch of nutmeg (fresh ground is best)
- 2 tablespoons extra-dry vermouth
- ½ - ¾ cup heavy cream (or milk or half and half), depending on how thick you want the cream sauce
- In a medium-sized saucepan, over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt.
- Add the onion and red bell pepper and saute for 3 minutes
- Sprinkle on the flour salt, pepper and nutmeg, stir to combine and eliminate any flour lumps, and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the vermouth and cream and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened.
- Add the drained spinach and stir to combine and heat through.
- Serve hot.