Regardless if you’re looking for a vegan alternative to a steakhouse classic or are simply trying to lighten a notoriously decadent way to eat vegetables, this creamed spinach without cream is a great side dish option.
When testing out this recipe, I even surprised myself with how spot-on and creamy this dish turned out. If you weren’t told ahead of time it was vegan, you could fool even the most ardent of dairy lovers. So if you’re on the hunt for the perfect side dish for a hearty meal, look no further than this!
It matters not if you’re looking to veganise a traditional dish, are lactose-intolerant but love a creamy dish or simply want to avoid the fattiness of a cream-based side, then look no further than this creamed spinach without heavy cream. I promise that it won’t disappoint.
How to Make Creamed Spinach Without Cream
The first step to this creamed spinach recipe without cream cheese or heavy cream is to make our cream substitute – a cashew cream!
This may sound strange, but as cashews have an incredibly mild flavour, they don’t give any off-flavours and lend pretty much the same creaminess as a pint of heavy cream would to this dish. Because I wanted to make this vegan, I decided to use cashews instead of another dairy like in my mushroom sauce.
To make cashew cream, either soak some cashews raw, unsalted cashews in plenty of cold water overnight. Or, if you’re short on time, you can cover them in boiling water and soak for at least an hour before you need to use them.
Once the cashews are softened, drain the water and add them to the jar of a blender along with a bit of cold water.
Blend on high for a couple of minutes, scraping down the sides if necessary, until the cashews are creamy and smooth and no lumps remain.
This recipe makes more cashew cream than you will need for this recipe, however, you can use it in a number of different instances where regular cream can be used – such as my spinach artichoke dip or green peppercorn sauce.
Now it’s time to move to the stovetop and start making our creamed spinach!
Heat a bit of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Then, add in some finely minced shallots and a bit of garlic along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook the shallots until they’re just softened, only a couple of minutes.
Then, add your spinach. I recommend using full-leaf spinach here rather than baby spinach as I think it stands up to the longer cooking time better. However, if all you can find is baby spinach, then go ahead and use that – it will work just fine.
Add your spinach and cook until it’s wilted – you may need to work in batches here depending on the size of your pot.
Once the spinach has completely wilted (this will only take a minute or two), sprinkle a bit of flour over the spinach.
The flour will act as a thickening agent to ensure you get the right consistency with your creamed spinach without cream. Stir in the flour to incorporate.
Then, stirring constantly, add some of the cashew cream along with some unsweetened cashew milk (because this is also a creamed spinach without milk recipe).
Stir to ensure that there are no lumps in the sauce and then bring everything to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to low and allow the creamed spinach to bubble away for about 30 minutes – stirring occasionally to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Once the spinach is creamy, thick and homogenous it’s time to add some nutritional yeast flakes (can be bought online here). If you’re not concerned about making this vegan or vegetarian, then go ahead and grate in a bit of parmesan cheese here in place of the yeast flakes.
Along with this, also grate in some whole nutmeg – this adds a great depth of flavour to the creamed spinach.
Now, all you need to do is taste to adjust for seasoning – adding some salt and pepper if you think it’s necessary! All that’s left is to serve and enjoy!
- 100g (3.5oz) raw, unsalted cashews, soaked in boiling water for at least 1 hour or in cool water overnight
- 1-2 small shallots, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, grated on a Microplane or very finely minced
- 1kg (2lbs) full-leaf spinach, trimmed, washed and drained (see note 1)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons plain flour
- 250ml (1 cup) unsweetened cashew milk
- 1 teaspoon white miso paste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg (see note 2)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- Drain the cashews and add them to the jar of a blender along with 120ml (1/2 cup) cold water. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes until very smooth. Transfer the cashew cream to a small bowl and set aside (see note 3).
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the shallots and garlic along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots begin to soften - about 2 minutes.
- Add the spinach - working in batches if your pot is not large enough - and cook, stirring constantly, until the spinach is wilted and has significantly reduced in size, only a few minutes.
- Once the spinach has wilted, sprinkle the flour over the spinach and stir to incorporate. Then, stirring constantly, add 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of the cashew cream along with the cashew milk. Add the miso paste and stir to incorporate.
- Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until thickened and creamy - about 30 minutes. Then, grate in the nutmeg and stir in the nutritional yeast flakes. Taste to adjust for seasoning, adding salt and pepper where needed. Serve immediately.
1. Full-leaf spinach is a bit heartier than baby spinach and stands up to the longer cooking time a bit better. However, if you can only find baby spinach at your supermarket, that will work just fine in this recipe. Obviously, baby spinach does not need to be trimmed.
2. Use whole nutmeg grated on a Microplane grater. Pre-ground nutmeg quickly loses any flavour and will not add anything to your finished dish.
3. You won't use the entirety of the cashew cream in this recipe, however, stored in an airtight container it will last in the refrigerator for a week or two. Use it in place of cream in a range of different recipes.
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- Deiss PRO Lemon Zester & Heavy Duty Cheese Grater & Vegetable Grater — Parmesan Cheese Lemon, Garlic, Nutmeg, Chocolate, Fruits, Vegetables, Ginger Grater - Cheese Shredder & Stainless Steel Grater
- Silk Cashew Milk, Unsweetened, Dairy-Free, Vegan, Non-GMO Project Verified, Half Gallon, 64 Fl Oz
- Anthony's Premium Nutritional Yeast Flakes, 1 lb, Fortified, Gluten Free, Non GMO, Vegan
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 176Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 240mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 8gSugar: 5gProtein: 12g
Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This vegan creamed spinach without cream, cream cheese or milk checks all the boxes of the dairy-loaded favourite while still being easy to make and absolutely delicious!
Are you looking for a cream-free creamed spinach recipe? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!