Weekend Project: How to Make Vegan Creamed Spinach

Make sure you have nutmeg.

vegan creamed spinach
Photo by Ace Anderson

As the holidays approach, it’s time to start planning dishes for your dinner table or socially distanced potluck. And when you say you’re making anything vegan, it’s usually met with skeptical looks and your crock pot being placed in an undesirable corner. But trust us, this side dish is a game changer. People won’t believe that the flavorful, velvety creamed spinach you whipped up is actually vegan.

With the help of Dallas-based chef Gabrielle Reyes also known as One Great Vegan, I was able to get some much needed practice at making this simple yet filling dish. Reyes is the owner of catering company, One Great Vegan, and since the pandemic started, she’s been hosting live musical cooking classes on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. By musical, I mean she literally sings as she cooks, which you just have to experience for yourself. 

“I started doing live stream cooking classes in 2019, just to create content. I really had no idea what I was going for, but I knew that I was going to just create something every single week,” Reyes said. “I would tell people I was going live to keep myself accountable, and so I just started making fun recipes, and in one of those recipes, I started singing. There was such a great reception and everyone loved the song.”

Giving new meaning to dinner and a show, Reyes gave me tips and tunes on how to make vegan creamed spinach flavorful and worthy of being a part of your holiday meals. And maybe serenade your dinner guests, too. 

Making the creamy (yet dairy-free) spinach

The first step in Reyes’ vegan creamed spinach recipe is to make the cream using coconut cream, a combination of seasonings, gluten-free flour, lemon juice, and vegan butter. 

I began by dicing up white onions and pouring them into a large pan with vegan butter to sauté. Once the onions started to turn clear, I threw in roughly two tablespoons of minced garlic and some fresh lemon zest. 

Reyes said she likes to put all of her seasonings in one big bowl to make sure they’re mixed together well. Her recipe also incorporates an ingredient I’ve never used before (and wasn’t aware that you could buy it in a store): nutritional yeast. 

“The seasonings are key, because typically for creamed broccoli recipes, you add things like dairy, right? But you still want to have that milky fattiness in this recipe. So what I like to use is nutritional yeast, about three to four tablespoons because it's so cheese-like,” Reyes said. 

So in my bowl went the nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powder, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and last but certainly not least, nutmeg. “About two teaspoons of some fresh nutmeg will make the whole thing taste all delicious and warm. And especially for fall and winter time, it just adds in that extra vast flavor of deliciousness,” Reyes said. 

Before pouring my bowl of seasonings in, I dumped a can of coconut cream into the pan, which would create the “creamed” in “creamed spinach.” Reyes emphasized that you should always use the coconut cream in a can versus the kind that comes in a paper box.

vegan creamed spinach
Photo by Ace Anderson

As everything started thickening in the pan, I added in some gluten-free flour and stirred frequently until it began to resemble a nice, creamy queso. You can also use tapioca flour, but gluten-free flour is less sticky. 

Next came the seasonings, which I carefully mixed into the cream, followed by a gradual addition of my spinach. Even though spinach cooks down pretty quickly (and practically to nothing), if you want to make it cook even quicker, Reyes suggested adding in a little veggie broth. The broth will not only help deflate, but it will also add in flavor. 

Once the spinach is all mixed in with the melted coconutty cream sauce, you’ll have a nice serving of vegan creamed spinach, which Reyes likes to pair with noodles or garlic bread. But how you dress up or dress down your classic side dish is up to you.   

Vegan Creamed Spinach Recipe

Ingredients


Instructions
1. Heat the vegan butter in a large pan. Add the diced white onion and saute them down with a splash of salt, stirring it occasionally until the onions begin to turn brown. Halfway through, add in the minced garlic and continue sauteing everything together.
2. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and gluten-free flour to the pan and stir everything together. 
3. Slowly pour in the coconut cream, stirring it constantly in the pan. Add in all of the seasonings/spices and continue cooking and stirring until the mixture is very thick like a queso cheese. 
4. One handful at a time, add in the baby spinach to the pan and cook it down into the thick sauce as best you can. Add in a splash of veggie broth if you want it to cook down quicker!
5. Stir everything well until the spinach is completely wilted and is well-integrated into the coconut cream sauce.
6. Taste the creamed spinach for flavor and add more pink salt or lemon juice if needed.
7. Serve with garlic bread, pasta shells, or as a fabulous dip with toast!
8. Sing your song. Do your dance. Speak your truth and dig in! 

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Kristen Adaway is a staff writer for Thrillist. Follow her @kristenadaway