The steakhouse side dish becomes your weeknight main dish.
Creamed Spinach Pasta brings this classic steakhouse side home in the form of an approachable weeknight dinner. The sauce’s flavor builds up all in one pot, creating amazing depth with little mess. Simple touches of spices and aromatics heighten the creamed spinach sauce to new levels. Pasta just met its new best friend.
Dimly lit lights against wood-covered walls, thick fabric draping over the tables, and heavy-weighted silverware cool to the touch are some of the elements that simmer to your consciousness when you think of a steakhouse. While many dream of a steakhouse’s temperature-controlled, salt-aged steaks, the sides are what do it for me. Rich, like-there’s-no-tomorrow amounts of butter and cream turn the simple into something simply spectacular. Creamed spinach may slump, wilted onto your plate, or compressed into a gratin dish, but either way, it’s an indulgent way to get your daily greens.
This Creamed Spinach Pasta is a weeknight workhorse, mostly comprised of pantry ingredients that can get from the stove to your table in under thirty minutes.
Ingredients are simple — dried pasta, frozen spinach, butter, flour, milk, onion, garlic, and a few spices. I went for a simple spaghetti shape, but a rotelle, fusilli, campanelle, or rigatoni would also work well in this recipe.
Since you’ll be cooking the pasta in the sauce, you’ll want to boil your pasta slightly less than al dente. Before draining, make sure to reserve some pasta water, about one to one and a half cups.
Next, tackle the sauce. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onions until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, cooking until just aromatic.
Stir in the flour, this will be the base of the roux.
Once it starts to become paste-like, pour in the milk, whisking constantly.
It’ll take a few minutes, but once the milk and paste join forces, the sauce begins to thicken.
Add in your spices as well. Nutmeg adds an earthy note, while a bit of cayenne pepper cuts through the richness of the sauce.
Fold in the drained spinach and pasta, toss to combine evenly, and bring to a simmer. If the sauce is looking too thick, add a few ladles of pasta water to thin it out a bit.
If you want to be extra decadent, you can add some parmesan cheese to the sauce, but it’s not required.
The spinach’s neutral notes contrast against the richness of the cream. Nutmeg and cayenne aren’t in your face, but they add just enough balance to complement and enhance the sauce.
If you wanted, you could even make this pasta dish a casserole and bake it in the oven until it becomes crisp, but for an easy weeknight meal, the stove top version is your best speedy option.
Creamed Spinach Pasta
10m prep time
28m cook time
- 1/2 lb dried spaghetti, rotelle, fusilli, campanelle, or rigatoni
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1 small package (250 grams) frozen defrosted and drained, or 8 cups fresh spinach
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- In a large pot bring water to a boil, heavily season with salt, and cook pasta until it’s just before al dente, about 7 to 8 minutes. Reserve 1 to 1 1/2 cups of pasta water before straining the pasta and setting it aside.
- In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté onion until soft and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add garlic, sautéing until it becomes fragrant.
- Stir in flour, stirring constantly until the raw flour smell disappears, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Pour in milk, whisking continuously to combine.
- Add in nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil, letting it cook for 1 minute or so, stirring frequently.
- Add in spinach, stirring well to combine.
- Gently fold in pasta. If it is looking too thick, add in reserved pasta water, a few splashes at a time.
- Season again with salt and pepper if needed. Serve and enjoy.
Recipe adapted from Umami Girl.