The classic recipe for creamed spinach calls for spinach braised in a béchamel, or white, sauce, in which flour is blended with milk or cream. This is a variation, using corn meal instead of flour. I’ve made this with a medium ground corn meal, and it was good, if not quite as creamy as I like my polenta to be. In future I will make this with a fine ground corn meal. I also think you could use other quick cooking or “instant” grains, such as oatmeal, quinoa flakes, or barley grits, to name a few. As well, any green or a combination will work, just cook them to tenderness according to their constitution.
8 – 10 cups spinach, washed
3 T butter or oil, or a combination
1/2 c chopped onion, optional
1 c broth or stock, or water
1/3 c corn meal (polenta)
1/2 c milk or substitute, or more broth or stock
1/4 c grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Cook spinach. Either steam or put in a skillet with the water still clinging to its leaves and sauté until the spinach has wilted and released liquid. You can cook the spinach as long as you want and even cook off the water, but I like to drain the spinach in a colander after a few minutes of cooking, and reserve the water from the pan or pot as part or all of the liquid required in the recipe. Press out some of the water from the spinach and, if you like, coarsely chop the spinach.
2. Using the same pot or skillet for cooking the spinach, melt butter or heat oil over medium-low heat. Add onion along with a pinch of salt and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the broth or stock and bring to a quick simmer. Add the corn meal in a steady stream, stirring or whisking all the while. Keep on stirring or whisking until the corn meal is well blended into the liquid and there are not lumps. Watch your heat level, and turn it down some if the grain looks like it might burn. Stir for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the grain and its texture.
3. Add the milk, still stirring. Cook for another couple of minutes, then add the spinach, stirring to incorporate. Heat through. Add the Parmesan, stirring it in. Take off heat. Season with salt (remember that Parmesan is salty) and pepper, and serve, with additional Parmesan, if you like.