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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

"This would be a better world for children, if the parents had to eat the spinach." -- Groucho Marx: Using Our Stash of Canned Spinach

This post is as much a call-out for ideas and recipes as it is my own experience in using canned spinach.

Over the summer and fall, I bought cans of vegetables for my winter pantry. Included in what I bought are: pureed pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomato paste, whole tomatoes, sliced beets, carrots, corn, green beans (Blue Lake variety), Italian flat green beans, peas, and spinach. I was trying to amass a variety of orange, red, and green vegetables. I like to serve at least one orange or red and one green vegetable with each dinner. For the month of November, I have laid out a rotation that ensures we use the cans of vegetables in a balanced way.

Maintaining variety in how I serve each vegetable is the biggest challenge. I'm not a huge fan of canned vegetables; however, they do store neatly on a shelf instead of in my already-packed fridge and freezer.

This week, we tackled the canned spinach. I found that even with a rotation plan in place, we were still avoiding the spinach. 

In the past few days, I found two ways that were not only acceptable, but actually delicious ways to use the canned spinach: a personal omelet and a souffle that's not a souffle.

Spinach and cheese omelet

I was making my lunch the other day and there was a can of spinach sitting on the counter, staring me down. (I thought if I left the can on the counter, someone would eat it.) I was going to make myself a scrambled egg, then thought, "why not add some spinach?"

I made myself a simple spinach and cheese omelet by pouring a beaten egg into a hot, buttered skillet, spooned a little drained spinach on top of the cooking egg, added a pinch of nutmeg, some onion powder, salt, and a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. When the egg was set, I folded the whole thing up. Easy-peasy done. 

My family members sat at the table with me and followed my first forkful with their eyes, waiting to see if this was something awful or something tasty. (Cue the iconic TV commercial scene with Mikey and Quaker Oats breakfast cereal Life, circa 1972.) I loved it, but I have yet to convince them to try the same for themselves.

I knew from cooking other recipes that spinach goes well with nutmeg, onion, garlic, and a variety of cheeses (cottage, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, cheddar, feta). That knowledge provided inspiration for both the omelet and this souffle.

Spinach Souffle (serves 4)

A variation of my personal spinach and cheese omelet, the souffle used: 

1  1/2 cans spinach
5 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
about 4 dashes nutmeg
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
about 3 tablespoons milk
about 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

In a mesh sieve, I drained and pressed most of the water from the canned spinach, then processed in the food processor using the chopping blade until mostly chopped, but not completely pureed.

In a large bowl, I beat the eggs with a whisk and stirred in the spices and powders, milk, and yogurt. Once smooth, I folded in the spinach and cheeses.

I baked the souffle in a well-buttered, glass round baker at 325 F (convection) for about 30 minutes, until the center looked puffy and set. 

I served the souffle topped with a quick, microwaved marinara sauce made from tomato paste, water, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes.

The family verdict? This was delicious and I think I converted all of my household to spinach-lovers with this souffle. The dish wasn't your traditional very puffed up souffle (which are made puffy by beating egg whites separately then combining with remaining ingredients), but more like a slightly puffy baked egg custard. If you've ever enjoyed Stouffer's Spinach Souffle, my version was along those lines.

The marinara-topped spinach souffle was accompanied by sausage links, roasted potatoes, and applesauce. However, for protein content (for a vegetarian meal), the souffle could stand alone with the protein in the eggs, cheeses, milk, yogurt and the spinach (a 13.5 oz can of spinach has 6 grams of protein). Total protein for the souffle was about 60 grams or 15 grams per serving.

For a first week of really trying with the spinach, I think I did well. But I am seeking other ways to use this canned vegetable. 

What are your favorite ways to use canned spinach? And actually, frozen spinach would fit here, too, as their textures are comparable once cooked. Recipes? Links? Ideas?


  1. While we don't buy it very often, I loved canned spinach. So heated out of the can is my favorite way. I guess that doesn't help you much, though. :) Good luck.

  2. I really like canned spinach and will eat it right out of the can! Hubby cannot have spinach as the roughage is just too much for his digestive system. I like a lot of veggies and I like them all cooked.


    1. Hi Alice,
      Hmmm, maybe I'm being overly picky. Both you and Live and Learn said you loved canned spinach. Thanks for your input.

  3. Your way of using it sounds like what I'd probably do, given the need to use up canned. My mom made canned spinach, just as is, as a veggie growing up, so I thought I hated spinach. Then, as an adult, tried fresh, and changed my mind! But, due to those childhood memories, I don't buy canned, still. However, I do use frozen, and throw it into soups (copycat Zuppa Toscana, Italian Wedding, Lentil), which I think you could also do with canned kind, drained. And these days, loving my dehydrator, so if we have an abundance next spring, will probably preserve it that way so it's shelf stable without freezing or canning. I'm also thinking you could drain it and use it in the ever popular spinach artichoke dip that is typically well-received. In fact, I'm making that Saturday for my daughter and her husband's House Warming/Wedding Reception (they had a small, live-streamed wedding in early October) as part of a trio of dips.

    1. Hi Cat,
      Great idea with the soups. That I'll definitely try. And the dip, too. I'll look up recipes for a dip that would work with my ingredients.

      I still can't get over that your daughter is married. It seems like it was not long ago that all of your kids were still at home. Enjoy the Housewarming/Wedding Reception!

  4. Hey Lili! Cook some bacon. 2 or 3 pieces are plenty. Drain spinach and sautee in bacon fat. Add bacon crumbled back to spinach. We have it with cornbread and hot sauce here in the south. Bacon makes life better.😉

    1. Hi Lona,
      You're right. Everything is better with bacon added! Spinach with some bacon sounds delicious. I'm going to give that a try with my family. Thank you!

  5. I, too, like canned spinach. Go figure. In a similar vein to your souffle, I would add it to a quiche or one of those Bisquick-style "impossible" pies. Or an eggy breakfast casserole. I think you could toss it in a soup with a tomato-based broth, too. I think there's something about the acidity of the tomatoes (and maybe the color contrast??) that combines well with greens. With Christmas coming up soon, you could tell your family that you are celebrating via food with Christmas colors. OK, maybe that approach works best with little kids .....

    I had Popeye visions when you talked about your cans of spinach. And yes, I remember the Mikey commercials for Life cereal.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I love your ideas. A quiche would be delicious as would an impossible pie. I'll see if I can find an impossible pie recipe that would work with what I've got. I also usually serve cooked spinach with something tomato. My mom always said that you get better iron absorption if you add something tomato to the spinach.
      LOL! I was thinking about the Popeye cartoons, too!
      Thanks for your ideas, Kris!

  6. I use a lot of spinach and greens, often I buy the 3# Brick of frozen chopped spinach and use it to make saag. Saag is a delicious spinach dish that is purred (immersion stick blender)after cooking the spinach, onion, garlic, ginger, tomato and spices. Often I make paneer (easy home made cheese) that cubes are sauteed in ghee and added to the spinach sauce. I freeze any extra.
    I make a pasta sauce that is just spinach, dash garlic powder, nutmeg, basil and ricotta cheese. When my children were little I made a less spicy sauce and the adults could add more spice to their serving. Just saute on low heat in oil/butter minced onion, then a minced clove garlic, add a box or two frozen spinach. Add a 15oz container ricotta, grating of nutmeg and some Parmesan and S&P to taste. Once heated thru mix with pasta of choice (I prefer cut pasta over long for this recipe) nice with chopped tomato garnish.
    Reading your omelette recipe reminded me of this simple sauce.

    1. Hi Robin,
      I've never heard of Saag. So, I just looked up a recipe for Saag and I think I have everything I could need, except the chili pepper. I could probably use some red pepper flakes. I also love the idea of a simple pasta sauce with the spinach, garlic, nutmeg, basil, and some sort of cheese. I don't have ricotta, but I think I could either make a cottage cheese with milk, salt, and acid (vinegar or lemon juice) or with the mozzarella and Parmesan that I do have. This is sounding very delicious as I think about it.
      Thank you for the ideas, Robin!

  7. I have used spinach in a lot of the recipes above in eggs, quiche, dip, etc (except for Saag, so may need to check that out myself). Another simple idea is just creamed spinach. I think the white sauce tones down the bitter taste that I think can accompany frozen or canned spinach. Along with the creamy white sauce, I've also added a few bits of bacon since, yes, everything is better with bacon!

    I've been AWOL a bit so just seeing your change in landscape photo. Very pretty foliage. Have a good weekend all.

    1. Hi Lynn,
      I love the idea of creamed spinach with some bacon bits added! Thank you for the suggestion. That's one that I'm sure I'll do.

      I just changed that photo the other day. I love all of the pretty colors that we've been seeing this autumn.

      Have a great weekend, Lynn!


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