These days, everyone comes to the Thanksgiving table with a dietary restriction. We bend over backwards trying to accommodate with gluten-free pies and vegan turkeys, all while trying to please our tradition-loving relatives too. (It’s just not Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes, we agree.) Rather than spending time and money on extra food, we think the best strategy is to make dishes that everyone can eat and love, like this creamed spinach with a secret omission: There’s no cream.
Dairy-free creamed spinach isn’t just possible. It’s rich, creamy, and packed with flavor. The secret? Homemade tofu cream. We promise it works: Purée some drained silken tofu in a blender and you’ll get a sauce that’s as smooth and silky as heavy cream. (Just skip the extra-firm stuff, which won’t break down nearly enough.) And because tofu and spinach aren’t exactly known for being packed with flavor, senior food editor Andy Baraghani adds brightness with sautéed ginger, chile, ginger, and scallions. These aromatics aren’t traditional Thanksgiving flavors, but they add just enough heat and layers of flavor.
This recipe has the best healthyish intentions, calling for a hefty two pounds of mature spinach—not baby spinach—which holds its shape well and has bigger crunchy stems. It will seem like an absurd amount of spinach but, as always, those leafy greens will dramatically shrink down. Add the tofu cream as soon as the spinach is wilted and bright green—not even Popeye wants overcooked spinach.
Once that sautéed spinach is bathed in a creamy sauce punched up with flavorful aromatics, it becomes a side totally deserving of a spot on a crowded Thanksgiving table. And unlike nearly everything else on the menu, this dish stays on the stovetop—so you can save the oven space for the bird. And if your cousin unexpectedly shows up with his vegan roommate in tow, or Uncle Jim forgets his lactose pills, you can get this from the kitchen to the table in ten minutes flat. Now that’s something to be grateful for.
Bring on the spinach: