Old-fashioned creamed spinach gets its creaminess from a white sauce thickened with flour and milk or cream. Although pancake mix has flour in it, it's not the best choice for thickening this classic side dish. Instead, opt for flour or one of its comparable substitutes.
To make creamed spinach, you combine flour with butter and milk to make a white sauce, which forms the foundation for the dish. The purpose of the flour is to thicken the sauce without adding any flavor. Pancake mix contains not only flour, but sugar, salt and some type of leavening agent, such as baking soda or baking powder. These extra ingredients might interact with the white sauce in surprising ways.
If you make creamed spinach with pancake mix, you'll end up with a slightly sweeter product, which might please finicky kids. On the other hand, you might be able to taste the baking powder, soda and salt more than you'd like. If you use a multigrain or cornmeal pancake mix, the creamed spinach might have a grainy texture.
In most cases, flour is the best choice for making creamed spinach. If you're out of flour, try combining a few tablespoons of cornstarch with cold milk. Don't brown the cornstarch in butter, but simply heat the milk and cornstarch, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Cream can stand in for milk in creamed spinach, creating a thick sauce with less flour or cornstarch.
Creamed spinach is one of those dishes that kids either love or despise. If you're trying to sneak more vegetables into your family's diet, try adding baby spinach leaves to a fruit smoothie. When combined with juice and fruit, the taste is completely disguised. Some kids prefer the taste and texture of raw spinach over cooked spinach. Serve spinach salads and offer tasty add-ins, such as cubed cheese, grape tomatoes, strawberries or sliced almonds. Spinach and other greens taste delicious roasted. Spray spinach lightly with oil and roast on a baking sheet for 3 to 5 minutes, or until slightly crisp.
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