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Creamed spinach uses cream of crop

Thursday, May 30, 2002

By Betsy Kline, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The end of the cool-weather months is prime time for spinach. Normally we just wash it and eat it raw in salads or use it to stuff chicken breasts or fish fillets, but this time we had a hankering for something a bit more savory.

We went browsing through our prized back issues of Kitchen Garden magazine looking for inspiration. (For those of you who missed it, Kitchen Garden was a glossy yet down-to-earth, short-lived magazine for home gardeners who preferred broccoli over begonias and lettuce over lilies. Sadly, it ceased publication last year.)

We found this yummy preparation for creamed spinach that tastes every bit as good as our favorite renditions of the same by Stouffers and Boston Market, only lighter on the calories and with a wonderful just-picked taste. We served it as a side dish with roasted pork and buttered noodles.

Most of the preparation time is in the cleaning of the spinach, but you could dispense with that if you want to pay extra for the prewashed cellophane bags of spinach, which you'll still want to destem.

Creamed Spinach

3 pounds fresh spinach, see note
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 scallions, trimmed and minced
5.2-ounce package garlic-and-herb Boursin cheese
2 tablespoons light cream
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash and trim the spinach. Three pounds seems like a lot, but it will wilt to a fraction of the volume. For this amount of spinach, we used a large bowl of cold water to dunk and swish the trimmed spinach leaves to remove sand and dirt, replacing the water frequently. You could also use a salad spinner, but that gets tiring after a while.

Melt the butter in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and saute until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Crumble the Boursin into small chunks and add to the skillet. Reduce heat and stir constantly until the cheese is melted and smooth. Keep warm over low heat.

Place a steamer in a large dry pot and add the spinach with water still clinging to the leaves. Working in batches, steam the spinach over medium-high heat until it has just collapsed, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the spinach and chop it fine (which we did), or use a food processor to make a coarse puree.

Add the spinach to the melted cheese in the skillet, stirring to combine well. Raise the heat to warm the mixture and add the cream to thin it slightly. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.

Note: Either crinkled or flat-leaf spinach works with this recipe. We used the flat-leaf variety we found at the farmers' market.

Kitchen Garden magazine, May 1997

If you have a fruit or vegetable that you would like to see featured, please call food editor Suzanne Martinson at 412-263-1760 or e-mail us at aburnett@post-gazette.com or bkline@post-gazette.com We're also looking for easy-to-make, quick recipes that highlight the fabulous flavors of fresh produce. Send to Farm Fresh, PG Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

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