Remember my cauliflower puree made with almond milk instead of cream? In that post I mentioned another recipe from Food and Wine that uses almond milk: a creamed spinach finished in the oven with a coating of bread crumbs and Marcona almonds. Of course, right after publishing that post, Marcona almonds were nowhere to be found… Apparently there has been a shortage of these almonds in Spain, so if you happen to find them where you live, act fast. Our Dillon’s store got a shipment last month, and I grabbed a bag faster than Buck catches a cookie in mid-air.
ALMOND MILK CREAMED SPINACH
(from Food and Wine magazine)
Four 5-ounce bags baby spinach
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup grated Cotija cheese
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons finely chopped marcona almonds
Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan, heat 1 inch of water. Add the spinach by the handful; allow each handful to wilt before adding more. When the spinach is wilted, drain it, pressing out as much water as possible. Wipe out the pot.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pot. Add the shallots; cook over moderate heat until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the almond milk and simmer until very thick, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese and spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into a baking dish.
In a small bowl, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the panko and almonds and sprinkle over the creamed spinach. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: My Mom used to make creamed spinach the old-fashioned way, basically a bechamel-sauce into which some sautéed spinach was mixed in. Much to her despair, I never touched it. I actually never touched spinach in any type of recipe, raw, cooked, even a ravioli with spinach filling was not welcome on my plate. But, of course I wised up at some point and to quote my virtual friend Sawsan: “I made peace with spinach”. 😉
When I made this recipe, I did not think it would have a happy ending. The key point is to have the right proportion of almond cream to spinach, and that’s not very easy to achieve. I printed the recipe exactly as published in Food and Wine, but I halved it. To do so, I needed only 10 ounces of spinach, but more spinach would have been better. I advise you to made the almond cream, wilt all the spinach you have and then hold back some of the cream. You want the spinach to be nicely coated by cream, but not swimming in it. I did not add melted butter to the Panko, just sprinkled all over the dish and half way through baking I softly pressed the coating into the cream. Since my concoction already seemed to have too high a cream to spinach ratio, I thought the melted butter would complicate matters further. So, to summarize, I think this recipe has potential, but it needs some tweaking.
Creamed spinach goes very well with fish, so I served it with grilled salmon & white rice. Simple, but very tasty. Almonds and spinach make a very nice combination. If you don’t like almond milk, a regular bechamel sauce like my Mom used to make, decorated with toasted slivered almonds would be a nice dish too.