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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.

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  1. pinehurst RE: shaogo 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.

    1. mamachef RE: shaogo 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. Bacardi1 RE: shaogo 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 RE: Bacardi1 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. j
          Jenny Ondioline RE: shaogo 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. Jay F RE: shaogo 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. q
              Querencia RE: shaogo 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 RE: Querencia 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. Jetgirly RE: shaogo Jan 24, 2013 05:52 PM

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

                1. vil RE: shaogo 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!

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