What was even more exciting was the fact that this version was also gluten free since I used my Mary Gone Crackers "bread crumbs" and it turned out beautifully. Creamy, cheesy taste with the crisp of a crumble topping, healthy decadence at its best!
If you're a regular reader or know me personally, it will be obvious that it is the making of food, the transformation of ingredients into food that drives my passion for food, rather than the eating of it. Don't get me wrong, I like to eat, but I cook to create not to eat. So my co-workers are often the beneficiaries of my kitchen work, if they're interested! Right now it is this desire to create that is driving my vegan explorations.
Making a vegan bechamel sauce (or white sauce) was next up on my curiosity list and for this creamed spinach it turned out to be about simple substitutions: almond milk (unsweetned, plain) and margarine for the milk and butter. Stirring in some nutritional yeast into the finished sauce just adds a cheesy element that brings that umami flavor that dairy cheese supplies. Leave it out if you desire!
Vegan Creamed Spinach
3 large bunches fresh spinach, stems trimmed, double washed
2 tablespoons vegan margarine
2 tablespoons flour (any kind, I used chickpea (besam)
1/2 cup nut milk (I used almond)
3 tablespoons bread crumbs (gluten free works here as well)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot, steam the spinach with just the water on its leaves from cleaning it; drain and press out as much water as possible, chop and set aside. In a large skillet, melt the margarine over medium heat and stir in the flour to blend well, stirring it around so that it begins to turn golden. Turn the heat down to low (not simmer) and add the nut milk a couple tablespoons at a time, whisking it into the margarine-flour mixture to fully incorporate it. After all of the milk is absorbed, add the spinach and cook until heated through, mixing it well with the white sauce. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs and nutritional yeast and mix well with your fingers. Spoon the spinach into individual ramekins or a small baking dish and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top. If you like, dot the top with 1 tablespoon of cut up margarine to help brown the breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipes currently inspiring me:
Porcini Crusted Tofu with Shallot Gravy at Post Punk Kitchen
Zucchini "Meatballs" with Curry Tomato Sauce over Polenta at Eats Well With Others
Spinach Stuffed Flounder on Braised Lentils at Kalofagas