I have always loved creamed spinach.
My earliest memories it involve the California institution Lawry’s. I haven’t been back in years and don’t know if I can bear to every visit again. From what I hear, it is an overpriced tourist trap with salty meat and overpriced drinks, but I remember it as my first truly fine dining experience. I loved getting all dressed up and eating prime rib as heavy as I was, a baked potato that came with a cute little poem encouraging me to eat the skin, and - of course – that creamed spinach.
Lawry’s spinach was dense and rich – it barely tasted of spinach at all, it was really just a vehicle for gallons of cream and loads of butter.
Look, it was so delicious that it upstaged the Yorkshire pudding. How many dishes can say that?
This dish isn’t creamed spinach and it isn’t nearly as delicious as I the version that I recall from Lawry’s. But, then, I wonder if anything would be as delicious as that memory?
Lazy Creamy Spinach
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 lb. fresh spinach
1 tbsp. butter plus 2 tsp. oil
1/4 cup creme fraiche
a few dashes of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1. Sautee the garlic in the butter and oil over medium heat until it is fragrant but not brown – we don’t want any bitter taste here.
2. Throw in the spinach. Turn it for the next 5 minutes or so. It will wilt down very quickly.
3. When it is wilted – I mean really wilted – turn off the burner and add the creme fraiche. it will get a little soupy but not too much.
4. Add seasonings, taste, and serve piping hot.
This is such a great side dish to meatloaf or honey mustard chicken. It’s rich but not super heavy and the creme fraiche adds and unexpected tang along with its creamy richness. You don’t have to boil cream forever or strain out any complicated spices – just sautee, add the creme fraiche, and go. It’s similar to sour cream but with an even denser texture and slightly sweeter taste. Speaking of sweet, if you don’t have fresh nutmeg you can skip it, but it really does add that “je ne sais quoi” - like how orange rind perks up carnitas or a bay leaf enriches chicken stock. This is comforting, savory, and tastes leagues better than the frozen stuff. It isn’t the same as real creamed spinach, but it does the trick.
You can’t go back to your youth, but it doesn’t hurt to update your classic memories.