Spinach and nutmeg, to be or not to be?
- shaogo Jan 24, 2013 12:13 PM
So I just read a post elsewhere asking for arugula recipes and several folks said just sub a spinach recipe. I think the flavors are not alike at all. Spinach is a much less persnickety palate upon which to layer other flavors. That brought to mind this spinach question:
I, for one, love to add a bit of fresh grated nutmeg (not too much) to creamed spinach, spinach quiche and spinach soup. I make a spinach/swiss "souffle" that's really just a casserole that relies on a pinch of nutmeg. My combinations of spinach and nutmeg result in empty dishes and compliments from my guests.
Here's my question: In several restaurant reviews in my area (Hartford, CT) reviewers and patrons have gone on record as saying that they don't like the aroma/flavor of nutmeg in creamed spinach (another complained about a spinach pie recipe). I'd love to know how Chowhounds feel about the spinach/nutmeg symbiosis (or not).
My first taste of this together was in a divine spinach souffle the chef made for me at my first high-school job (he was Alsatian off the boat and my family's mostly from there). But for Chinese-style spinach dishes, I've not left out the nutmeg in spinach dishes since that chef taught me about these flavors.
I don't mind it, but I like other flavors to play with spinach too (sometimes I add garlic, sometimes pepper oil). For me, I like the nutmeg with creamed spinach and/or if I'm adding chicken/cheese. Not so much if I'm doing an egg based dish, or tossing with pasta and oil. But a Greek friend of mine introduced me to nutmeg with spinach (and with other dishes as well) and to answer you....I'm not offended at all.
IMO, nutmeg w/ spinach is a perfect combo. It's not the only thing I use, but in a classic like creamed spinach, it always shows up.
Of course this makes sense.
It's the old concept where, "if you can taste it, it's too much; but if it's not there, you miss it."
Which raises my consciousness:
Perhaps the dishes the reviewers I mentioned were, in fact, overwhelmed with nutmeg. Chefs who have no formal training often use too much of it.
And nutmeg is such a persnickety spice: the only use for the stuff we get ground in a store, to me, is atop a simple egg custard.
Else, for true seasoning in spinach, as mentioned, or other uses but for maybe a spice cake, the fresh-ground, used in moderation, is best.
Nutmeg also works perfectly with chard or beet greens. I never serve any of the three without a light grating.
I love nutmeg with spinach, but I use only a teeny, tiny bit. I want what I'm making to taste and smell like food, not Glade.