This dish is a surefire crowd pleaser and a goto whenever I have lactose sensitive guests. Hearty and soulful, the recipe relies on two key substitutions: 1) I replace spinach with organic napa cabbage and 2) instead of cream I opt for fresh, homemade duck broth. I'll explain.
1) We've all been there. You put in your 2 pounds of spinach to cook down, and when you open the lid it's reduced down to half a cup. Or less. Instead of rationing out what remains, do your hungry guests a favor and use a nice fresh napa cabbage. The leafy parts will retain their texture better during the cooking process, and the stems lend a nice crunch that's missing in most creamed spinach recipes.
2) Duck broth brings the heartiness of cream without the lactose. You can use any broth you want here, and you can even make this recipe vegan by substituting a nice homemade vegetable stock. However, I like duck. The taste reminds me of lakeside clearings in the forest, the snowy faces of my native Alps, the blaring of a trumpet, the gore and glory of the hunt.
Also, instead of nutmeg, this creamed spinach is spiced up with the addition of scallion whites, ginger, clove, and star anise. For a bit of freshness at the end, I add a bit of finely minced scallion greens and cilantro. —KLi
- Prep time 5 minutes
- Cook time 55 minutes
- Serves 4
duck broth (preferably homemade)
big leaves of organic napa cabbage
1/4 inch slices of ginger
light soy sauce
salt (to taste)
- Stud each of the ginger slices with a clove. Set aside. Chop the scallion whites into roughly 1" segments, and finely slice the scallion greens.
- Split napa cabbage into leaf and stem sections. Cut the stem down the middle lengthwise then cut crosswise into quarter inch slices. Tear the leaves roughly with your fingers into roughly 1-2" chunks.
- Heat duck broth, soy sauce, clove-studded ginger slices, star anise, and scallion whites in a medium saucepan. When the broth comes to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Allow the broth to simmer for 40 minutes.
- Remove scallion whites, star anise, and clove-studded ginger slices from the broth and add in sliced napa cabbage stems. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
- Add in the napa cabbage leaf chunks and simmer for just 2 minutes.
- Season creamed spinach to taste with salt. Serve in warmed bowls, topped off with cilantro and scallion greens to guests' preferences.