It happens every time we go out to eat.
I studiously examine the menu, taking into account the balance of all of the offerings before I can possibly fathom what choice I might make for my meal. Debating. Then deciding. Then debating again. Then re-reading the entire menu once more.
And by the time the waiter rolls around and lets us in on the secret that he’ll be our waiter for the night I’ve more than likely changed my mind again. Hey, I can bash on the server introduction because I used to have the same exact set-up when I was a server, but frankly now that I’m a customer it really doesn’t matter to me about the formal intro.
So whether you’re Melissa or James as my server for the night, put aside the formalities because there’s really only one thing I care about hearing from you at this particular moment in time and it’s this: Your recommendation on what’s best on the menu. THAT I must know as my entire dining experience is hanging in the balance.
So I ask, the server lets me know and then I go with what I thought I originally wanted anyway. And then he walks away and I come into yet another state of flux, treating each meal as a death row inmate’s last stand, as if this is the last meal I will ever eat.
It. is. so. annoying.
If only each meal could be a buffet of flavors like the glorious Thanksgiving dinner. A bite of this, a taste of that. That’s why I’m a big, big fan of Thanksgiving. It’s the variety, the different dishes that mingle together on my plate.
Today I’m sharing with you some of my favorite side dishes, the dishes that add a little extra oompah to the table, starting with Stovetop Creamed Spinach. Why the stovetop? On this one day of the year when my oven’s dance card is more jam packed than any of the “celebrity” couples on Dancing With the Stars, I realize there is a serious need for order of the oven if this dinner is ever to get to the table.
This recipe taste similar to one I had last weekend in Scottsdale, AZ when we had dinner at a steakhouse with the family: Creamy but not cloying, fresh instead of stringy. It’s a steakhouse so that means you gotta have steak, right? Nope. That means you’ve gotta have creamed spinach. Yet another reason to love side dishes.
A few notes about the recipe:
This recipe calls for a whole lotta spinach but don’t be tempted to try the frozen stuff. Fresh spinach is definitely going to taste better and more tender in both it’s leaves and stems than frozen. Go fresh, you’ll thank me later.
The longer the spinach cooks on the stovetop, the more liquid will emit from the spinach creating a thinner sauce. So if you like your sauce thicker, cook spinach just until al dente and serve immediately.
If you have room in the oven and crave that baked taste, transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle with additional cheese and cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden on top.
I use the pre-bagged triple washed spinach rather than the fresh spinach still on the stems and bound with wire ties. The ease and convenience of plopping already clean leaves into the pan is well work the extra dimes it costs me.
Stovetop Creamed Spinach
- 2 pounds fresh spinach leaves
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup cream
- 1 clove garlic peeled and smashed
- 2 cups freshly ground parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add cream and garlic to butter and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook cream at a slow boil, stirring occasionally until cream has thickened and has reduced by half, about 25 minutes.
Remove garlic from cream and start adding spinach leaves in batches. Cook for 1-2 minutes then stir into cream. Add another batch of fresh spinach and repeat cooking and stirring process. Continue until all of the spinach is cooked in.
Add parmesan cheese and stir to combine then season with kosher salt, pepper and nutmeg. Serve immediately.
And now for more ways to satiate your desire for multiple tastes at the Thanksgiving dinner table, give one or more of these recipes a go. If you can make up your mind which ones to choose.
Now let the eating, and shopping, begin. Happy Thanksgiving!
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