This one could be a candidate for Confessions of a Locavore. Local it ain’t, and neither is it particularly healthy. It is, however, highly seasonal, in that I only eat it on or around Thanksgiving. And it’s really, really good. I don’t know where the recipe originated, but it’s a staple of my husband’s family’s Thanksgivings, hosted by his Aunt Mary. No matter what else I have on my plate, I always make sure there’s plenty of room for creamed spinach.
It’s one of those dishes where I might be happier not knowing what was in it. But as Mary writes in the family cookbook, “Don’t worry about the ingredients, just enjoy.” That said, here’s what the ingredients look like before the spinach goes in:
Yes, it’s just what it looks like. Eggs, mayo, cheese, cream of mushroom soup, onions, and water chestnuts. When I add the spinach to this mix it almost disappears, making something that’s more spinach-flavored cheesy goo than anything else. But the water chestnuts are important, mind you – the delicate crispness they provide is a big part of the appeal, and helps give the (misleading) impression of lightness. I particularly love eating this stuff on a soft, sweet bread like challah, so it’s all soft-textured except for the slight crunch.
I try to offset the guilt of buying canned mushroom soup by getting the “Healthy Request” version. Not as salty, and doesn’t have MSG. I know I could make bechamel sauce instead, but then it wouldn’t be the real creamed spinach. Like making tater tot casserole with fresh grated potatoes. Just wrong. You gotta love this for what it is.
Aunt Mary’s Creamed Spinach
- 2 packages frozen spinach
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup grated cheddar
- 1 can water chestnuts, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup (I prefer the stuff without MSG, but follow your bliss)
- 2 eggs
Heat up the spinach in the microwave and squeeze most of the water out. Combine it with everything else in a large bowl, then scrape it all into a gratin dish or roasting pan. Top with breadcrumbs if you like, but it’s not necessary. Bake uncovered at 350° for 45 minutes, until it puffs up a bit and turns golden on the edges. Serve as a side dish with roasted poultry, or with eggs for breakfast, or spread on crackers, or spooned directly out of the fridge. Whatever works. Enjoy!