Creamed Spinach with Wholewheat Spaghetti
I have to admit that I was not overly enthusiastic about preparing creamed spinach. I love spinach, I have it almost every day, whether raw in a smoothie or a salad, cooked with beans and served with rice or otherwise sneaked into anything I can get away with, but for some reason the idea of creamed spinach never got my tastebuds excited. Mrs Green has long been in favour. She was introduced to it in her youth in France and has remained its staunch supporter ever since. I have not been able to shake off my skepticism (perhaps linked to the connection with French cooking, which I, fairly or unfairly, associate with very rich food, even where Mrs Green maintains that French home cooking is often heavy on vegetables and can be very healthy) until now.
Alas, to cut a long tale short, it turns out that I am an idiot, and creamed spinach is delicious. To top it off, it is the simplest dish that anyone with the ability to turn on a stove could dream of, especially if using frozen spinach. To add to the appeal we cook the spinach from frozen. The creamed spinach will take as long as most pastas to cook, so a dish that can be served in less than 20 min.
To make this recipe, well, more of a recipe than a one-liner, I am also including a little trick. Everyone, say bonjour to a plant-based parmesan substitute: a cashew nut, nutritional yeast and sea salt flake crumbly thingy. Prior to adopting a fully plant-based diet, I would have thought this substitution proposal to be idiotic, in particular because parmesan was my favourite cheese. I am not going to try to con you into thinking you would not notice the substitution (the smelly feet element is not really easy to replace from purely plant-based sources), but it does go a long way to bringing that punchy sprinkle of savoury flavour to a pasta dish and adds a nice and subtle umami note to the finished dish.
Given that we don’t include any dairy products in our diet, like parmesan cheese, also cream is off the menu. This probably played a part in my excluding even the prospect of creamed spinach from my mind (and to be honest, I have never been a great fan of using butters and creams). Then came the day when our local corner shop started supplying (or I finally noticed) a plant-based substitute for single cream. I probably grabbed it off of the shelf as a subtle nod of approval to the gradually but steadily increasing variety of plant-based product alternatives. Once it was sitting in my pantry, however, I had to find a way to use it (Little Boy Greens’ dinner being the perennial testing ground). The single cream substitute that we used is oat based and is aptly named “Oatly", but I am hoping that other plant based options available on the market would provide a similar result.
We served this super easy recipe in several combinations over the past few days. The first experiment included spinach, edemame, veg broth and cream served with black rice. I proceeded to simplify it further by preparing it without the edemame (although Little Boy Green totally dug it) and with linguine. Finally we had it as proposed below with pasta: Little Boy Green with whole wheat macaroni and us with whole wheat spaghetti.
Ingredients: (2 adults and 1 toddler)
- 240g /1/2lb frozen spinach (12 cubes, although sizes do vary between brands) No need to defrost
- 250ml /1 cup of single “cream”
- 1 large clove garlic
- We did not add salt as we used some of the water the pasta was cooked in, to which we add salt, otherwise, salt to taste
- Most pastas take 8 - 10 min to cook, so once the water is boiling and the pasta added proceed as below
- Crush garlic in a garlic press or dice a small clove of garlic very finely
- Place all ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a gentle boil
- Simmer for 10 minutes
- Add to pasta and 2 tbsp of cooking water and combine well
Plant Parmesan a.k.a. Crumbly Thingy Topping:
- 1 part nutritional yeast (we used 1/4 cup)
- 1 part raw cashew nuts (we used 1/4 cup)
- Sea salt flakes to taste (we used 1 tbsp)
- Place cashews in a blender/food processor and blend into a coarse crumble
- Add nutritional yeast and salt and process for a few pulses to combine