Creamed Spinach – Redux

I had a surprising number of comments to my post on “Creamed Spinach.” The dish was dubbed a “favorite” by some. One friend suggested using a special brand of hydroponic spinach (grown in water – no soil – often indoors – no stems) from Wegmans (a supermarket chain out east). Another suggested adding other vegetables, an egg and parmesan cheese to the mix. Some spoke of the Chicago restaurant icons where the best creamed spinach is served. Those mentioned include The Berghoff (a favorite for me when I worked downtown) which adds a teaspoon of chicken bouillon, two teaspoons of flour and a pinch of nutmeg. Then there was the old Red Star Inn (which closed in 1983) where Johnny the Waiter – in a black tux – would serve you on the second floor. Two other honorable mentions were E.J.’s and Landl’s in Skokie.

The friend who suggested adding other “frozen vegetables” got me thinking. So last night’s creation included some frozen organic peas (washed and nuked for 4 minutes). The dish was spectacular! Next time – a pinch of nutmeg.

Creamed Spinach

To say I “like” creamed spinach would be an understatement. I have been a creamed spinach aficionado for as long as I can remember. As a kid – I would go out for dinner with my parents. At the conclusion of the main course, the server would walk over and offer dessert – “we have chocolate pie, chocolate sundaes, chocolate cake and . . . .” I never listened since my mind was already made up. I would ask for another bowl of creamed spinach. The waiter would look at my father who would shrug his shoulders. On occasion at Louie’s Restaurant in Addison, I’d get two desserts. . . . . True. . . . .

Spinach is technically a flowering plant – native to Asia. In 2018, the world’s production of spinach was 26.3 million tons. I believe I consumed about 14% of that total (yes, on that I am kidding). Spinach is low in calories and high in nutritional value. Spinach is thought to have originated 2,000 years ago in ancient Persia. In 827 AD the Saracens introduced spinach to Sicily. Spinach first appeared in text in 10th Century medical works. And, like Popeye the Sailor Man, I attribute whatever strength I have to spinach. To quote Popeye – “spinach is full of vitamin A an’ tha’s what makes hoomans (sic) strong and helty (sic).”

If you want a special treat, try my recipe for creamed spinach: I start with half a yellow onion finely chopped and sautéed in 2 tablespoons of butter. Sautée until onion is translucent. Then add a few ounces of heavy cream and a few ounces of creamed cheese (separated). Let warm on low heat. Then sautée 10 ounces of (I prefer organic) triple washed spinach in olive oil. Once cooked – drain the olive oil (I use paper towels to help dry the spinach) and add the onion/cream and mix well. I add garlic powder and pepper. And you have creamed spinach that can accompany any meal. If you have any leftovers, let me know. . . .