Something Different
Week of: March x, 2013
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Steakhouse Creamed Spinach You Can Love

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Steakhouses can be as famous for their vegetable dishes as for their meat. But if you expect to redeem a steakhouse dinner by including vegetables, forget about it. Steakhouses make some of the unhealthiest vegetable dishes on the planet, starting with the infamous deep-fried whole onion served at some restaurants.

Even sensible choices like spinach or asparagus are usually so loaded with rich sauces that they would give one pause. So I set about fixing one vegetable side dish that is my personal favorite, creamed spinach.  

The result is something meat-and-potatoes eaters will enjoy. Even a registered dietitian will approve, and has, since every recipe offered by the American Institute for Cancer Research is vetted by an R.D.!

Roasted garlic is the secret to this dish. Roasting turns garlic soft and creamy. Roasting also tames its flavor so you can use lots of it – a whole small head. Mashed to a paste, the roasted garlic both flavors the spinach and helps give the dish a creamy texture.

The last step in this easy recipe is combining the spinach and garlic with sour cream.  Magic happens using only a modest amount of cream thanks to the garlic’s creaminess.

The volume of the spinach needed for four servings will look startling. Remember that spinach collapses to practically nothing as it cooks and trust me that you will enjoy every leaf once you dig into the finished dish. I also urge you to “shock” the cooked spinach in cold water right after cooking so it retains texture and holds it bright green color. Without this step, the creamed spinach will be mushy and may look murky.

Creamy Spinach

Creamy Spinach

  • 1 small head garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. baby spinach
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut off top of garlic head crosswise, exposing tips of cloves. Place garlic in center of square of foil. Drizzle on 1/2 teaspoon of oil and rub to coat garlic. Seal garlic in foil. Bake until garlic yields to gentle squeeze, about 45 minutes. Open foil and set garlic aside.

In skillet or pot large enough to hold spinach, add 1/2-inch of water and bring to boil. Add spinach, cover tightly, and steam over medium-high heat for 4 minutes, or until spinach is wilted, still bright green and tender. Immediately drain in colander. To preserve color, run cold water over spinach until cool. A handful at a time, squeeze out water, and make cigar-shaped rolls. On cutting board, cut spinach rolls crosswise into 3/4-inch slices. Rotate spinach 90 degrees and chop slices coarsely. There will be about 1½ cups chopped spinach.

Squeeze out roasted garlic cloves onto cutting board. Sprinkle with salt. Alternate chopping and smearing garlic using side of large knife to turn garlic into paste, about 2 minutes.

In medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm remaining oil. Add spinach, using wooden spoon to break up clumps and heat until warmed. Add garlic paste and mix to combine. Take skillet off heat and mix in sour cream. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 96 calories, 7 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 7 g carbohydrate,
4 g protein,  3 g dietary fiber, 242 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at

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