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Sullying Spinach

November 16, 2017

Subscribing to a CSA is a mixed blessing. The good side is that you get some amazing local, seasonal, and sustainable produce on a regular basis. The bad side is that you might get vegetables that half of your household refuse to eat.

And “refuse to eat” is probably too strong of a term for what happens in the Fussy household. The rule is that the kids have to try everything. But the corollary is that we don’t force anyone to eat something that will cause them distress.

Seriously, I’ve heard too many stories about adults refusing to eat certain foods because they were traumatized by them as kids. So we just don’t go there. My goal is to try and create positive experiences around food. And family dinners are a part of that.

Not too long ago, we ended up with a lot of spinach, and I followed the advice of my old friend Raf. His kids eat vegetables because they are loaded with salt and fat. The cooking methods Raf employs render green veggies as unhealthy as eating french fries, but his kids will eat spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, and the like.

With Raf’s example in mind, I set out to make creamed spinach.

Since it’s not anything I’ve made before, I started searching around for a decent, quick recipe that started with fresh spinach. I should also mention that we had leftover creamed cheese from the bar mitzvah, so I was looking for a recipe that would help me use up some of what we had on hand.

Hello Martha!

Martha Stewart saved the day. Her recipe even came with a video. Although I eyeballed my spinach and didn’t weigh it, so I kind of punted when it came to quantities of the creamy cheesy sauce. But the proportions worked out for me in the end. This is where it helps to have some experience in the kitchen.

The upside of Martha’s easy creamed spinach is that the cream cheese acts as a thickening agent, and you don’t need to make a roux. That also means it’s gluten free, for those who care about such things.

The downside of Martha’s easy creamed spinach is that the kids still hated it.

That meant an even bigger downside for me, because as I mentioned, I had no intention of forcing the kids to eat it. Mrs. Fussy was not going to eat it, because she stays away from creamy cheesy things, especially ones that are full of onions.

All that creamed spinach was mine.

This may have been the moment when I realized heavy foods that are vegetable based, can still be part of my new diet. The secret is in managing portion sizes.

So I divvied up the leftovers into small single portion sized containers and thought about how they could best be repurposed. There were a lot of ideas floating around in my head that didn’t get made. Shirred eggs with creamed spinach was one. I thought about a French-style omelet stuffed with creamed spinach too.

But I didn’t do any of those. Instead, I mixed a portion with some whole grain pasta, and made a creamy, cheesy spinach sauce. And on another occasion, I spiced up the spinach with aleppo chilis and cayenne pepper and used them as a topping for baked purple sweet potatoes.

I had baked those potatoes the day before, using my favorite method. Then took a cold one from the fridge and sliced it into rounds. Those rounds went into a cast iron skillet with a little safflower oil, to sear both sides. Then they were topped with the piquant creamy, cheesey spinach.

My resulting lunch was a plate full of hearty vegetables. It was a ton of fiber, nutrients, and all kinds of good stuff. Yes, the whole thing was effectively covered with a layer of butter and cream cheese. But in the end, I think that’s a relatively healthful meal.

Still, it’s not the spinach I would choose to make. I favor lighter preparations with garlic and great olive oil. Maybe a little lemon.

At least I can say that I tried to get my kids to eat their spinach. I’ll work on other preparations in the future, and just be glad that there are vegetables that the kids will eat without a fuss.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. EPT permalink
    November 16, 2017 2:06 pm

    In the future you might try a quick blanch of the spinach and quick ice bath. Get most of the water out by your method of choice. Mix spinach with feta cheese, a bit of egg, S&P, and put it in those little filo shells that they have in all the supermarkets. The kids and Mrs. Fussy might really enjoy them.

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