I LOVE spinach! It is probably my favorite veggie, if not one of my top foods. I am a living testament that if you hide a vegetable in a bunch of ooey gooey goodness, your child will eat it - and may even come to like it on its own later. I don't think my father's intention was to mask the idea of eating a vegetable since I was always a good eater. But spinach-dip love turned into just-plain-spinach love and I have him to thank for it.
My father and then-stepmom used to take me out to their dinners with friends on Friday nights when I was little after my dad had picked me up for the weekend. A frequent stop was Houston's in Rockville, Maryland. While we waited for our table (which was normally an hour wait), we sat at the bar and they would order the spinach dip. (Yes, bars were a bit more lax back then.) And I would inhale the dip. If they had handed me a spoon I would have eaten sans tortilla chips.
They seriously had the best spinach dip I have ever had - EVER! Sadly, when I was on the other side of the bridge a few months back, I was driving on Rockville Pike and noticed that Houstons no longer was there. I cried out in disbelief. Although I had not been there in a while, the thought that the comforting spinach dip was always there for me to inhale set me at ease.
Well, at least I have this new recipe. And it may even be healthier? Ok, maybe not. But you should still make it. The mix of the spinach and basil is not something I have done before but it is perfection!
PISTOU CREAMED SPINACH
makes 6 to 8 servings (as a side dish)
adapted from French in a Flash from Serious Eats
1 cup basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. EVOO
1 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
16 oz. thawed frozen spinach, wrung of any excess moisture
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
2. Make the pistou by blending basil, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse. Put the pistou in a bowl and stir in the Parmesan and breadcrumbs.
3. In a saucepan, mix together the spinach, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Heat over medium heat, stirring just enough so the cream doesn't burn.
4. Butter a 9x13 glass or ceramic pan and add the spinach. Top with the pistou mixture.
5. Bake covered with foil at 375 F for 30 minutes. Raise the heat to 425 F and bake uncovered for 15 minutes, until the cream is bubbling and the crumbs are golden.