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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.

  1. vil Jan 24, 2013 05:53 PM

    I am used to the spinach-nutmeg combination when in a quiche. Haven't tried it myself but would imagine I would like the combination in a souffle too. It seems to boil down to my association of nutmeg with egg dishes, as in French Toast.

    For other non-egg spinach dishes, I am actually more familiar with pairing it with dill.

    So it sounds like I have something new to try!

    1. Jetgirly Jan 24, 2013 05:52 PM

      LOVE IT. My first time was cooked by my own two hands.

      1. q
        Querencia Jan 24, 2013 05:48 PM

        Try spanakorizo, a Greek thing---drain cooked spinach (chopped frozen works fine) and mix half-and-half with cooked rice, then season with salt, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Especially good as a side with moussaka.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Querencia
          Bacardi1 Jan 25, 2013 07:53 AM

          You lost me at cinnamon. For some reason that's one spice that I cannot abide in savory dishes. In fact, I had to stop ordering pasta at a favorite Italian restaurant after they started adding cinnamon to their tomato-based pasta sauces. And it's also a reason why I steer clear of Moussaka, as well as a number of African dishes because what I consider "baking spices" are so prevalent.

          Just personal preference on my part, I know.

        2. Jay F Jan 24, 2013 04:41 PM

          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.

          1. j
            Jenny Ondioline Jan 24, 2013 04:31 PM

            Nutmeg also works perfectly with chard or beet greens. I never serve any of the three without a light grating.

            1. Bacardi1 Jan 24, 2013 04:02 PM

              I do enjoy a "pinch" of grated nutmeg in my creamed spinach - but just a "pinch". It's sort of one of those things where if I can taste it, it's too much. If that makes any sense.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bacardi1
                shaogo Jan 24, 2013 04:16 PM

                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.

              2. mamachef Jan 24, 2013 12:51 PM

                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.

                1. pinehurst Jan 24, 2013 12:24 PM

                  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.

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