With a velvety dairy-free cream sauce, a big pile of spinach transforms from a salad into a tender, luxurious side dish that tastes like it ought to be a guilty pleasure even when you know it’s really quite healthy. The tapioca starch thickens the coconut milk up into a satisfyingly creamy texture, and just a pinch of nutmeg adds some subtle background warmth and a little extra “comfort food” goodness.
This is a delicious side to serve as a replacement for green beans (or creamed corn, if you’re not picky about re-producing the same colors). Depending on exactly how creamy you like your spinach, you can make it in one of two ways. Either cook the spinach first and then add the coconut milk (this will yield the softest texture), or combine all the other ingredients and throw in the spinach at the end (this will leave it still a little crunchy). You can also add some cayenne pepper to taste if you like a little kick with your greens: it’s all up to you.
24 ounces of spinach might seem like a lot – that’s 2 ½ bags! – but it really cooks down to almost nothing in the coconut milk. That makes this an ideal recipe to serve to picky eaters who “don’t like vegetables:” you’re serving up a huge amount of one of the most nutritious plant foods in the world, in a way that doesn’t feel like eating “roughage” or “salad,” or anything else people usually associate with foods they feel guilty about not eating. And as a bonus, the fat in the coconut milk helps you absorb all the nutrients that the spinach delivers. Shock the “vegetable haters” after the fact with how much delicious spinach they just ate – or keep the secret to yourself and just enjoy the satisfaction of a nutritional job well done.
Creamed spinach Recipe
- 24 ounces spinach or baby spinach;
- 1 onion, finely diced;
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced;
- 2 cups full-fat coconut milk;
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg;
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper or to taste (optional);
- 2 tbsp. tapioca starch;
- 3 tbsp. ghee (clarified butter);
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;
- Melt the ghee in a pot over a medium heat.
- Slowly whisk in the tapioca starch and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook for another minute.
- Throw in all the spinach and cook until softened.
- Add the coconut milk, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper (if using). Give everything a good stir and cook for another 5 minutes. (If the sauce is not creamy enough, mix-in an additional 1 tbsp. of tapioca starch in a separate bowl with a little coconut milk, and slowly add it to the cooking mixture.)
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.