When you are planning family dinners, sometimes the entree is the easy part. Pick up a rotisserie chicken, throw a steak onto the grill or roast a ham in the oven. It’s what to serve on the side that can be the challenge, and steamed vegetables can get boring.
This week I’m sharing my recipe for Creamy Parmesan Spinach, which makes a great side to almost any entree.
The secret to the simplicity of this recipe is prepared herbed cheese spread. There are several options. I used Rondele brand for testing, and combined one 8-ounce container with a quarter-cup of sour cream. You also can use a 6.5-ounce container of Alouette brand and one-half cup of sour cream, or one 10-ounce container of Philadelphia brand cooking creme (no sour cream needed).
The creamy spinach mixture is topped with a crispy topping of panko breadcrumbs drizzled with a little melted butter. Panko, Japanese crispy white bread crumbs, is widely available in boxes or round containers in the baking aisle near the breadcrumbs or in the Asian foods section of most supermarkets.
Regular bread crumbs, crushed crackers or corn flakes can be used in place of the panko.
This recipe works equally well with frozen chopped broccoli in place of the spinach. Prepare the broccoli according to package directions and drain well before combining with the other ingredients.
Another nice change to the recipe is the addition of one can of artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped.
This creamy Parmesan spinach is a simple side dish that bakes in about 25 minutes.
Save the recipe for the holidays because it makes a terrific side to roast beef tenderloin or prime rib.
CREAMY PARMESAN SPINACH
2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach
1 8-ounce container soft herbed cheese
¼ cup regular or reduced-fat sour cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
⅔ cup panko or other bread or cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray.
Defrost spinach in the microwave according to package directions. Cool and drain well, pressing out as much of the liquid as possible.
Combine the herbed cheese, sour cream and Parmesan in a medium-large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then fold in the spinach. Spread it in the baking dish.
Sprinkle the panko or crumbs over the spinach mixture and drizzle with the melted butter.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until spinach mixture is bubbly around the edges and the bread crumbs are lightly browned.
Makes 4 servings.