Like lima beans and anchovies, canned spinach is most often found in the back of the pantry waiting for the apocalypse. We can't know for sure, but we're guessing that its less-than-stellar reputation has to do with misconceptions about taste, texture, or nutritional value. These concerns are valid. For starters, canned spinach usually features mature spinach leaves. Compared to the mild flavor of fresh baby spinach, mature spinach has a strong flavor that can be off-putting. In terms of texture, we're not going to lie to you, canned spinach's gloopy leaves leave something to be desired. And in terms of nutritional value, it's true that canned spinach can't hold a candle to the fresh variety. In fact, one cup of canned spinach contains about 20% of your recommended daily intake of sodium.
Despite its many shortcomings, we believe that canned spinach deserves a second chance. In this article, we'll show you that canned spinach can be a culinary hero, ready to rescue your meals with the convenience and flexibility it provides. Imagine indulging in the creamy decadence of spinach artichoke dip, savoring a velvety bowl of spinach soup, or elevating your pasta game with vibrant spinach pesto. These are just a taste of the recipes we have in store for you. To see the rest, check out our guide to the best ways to use canned spinach.
Read more: 16 Worst Canned Foods You Can Buy
Whip Up Some Spinach Artichoke Dip
Blending creaminess with the delicious flavors of spinach, artichokes, and cheese, spinach artichoke dip is a true crowd-pleaser if there ever was one. And don't even get us started on how quick and easy it is to make. While most recipes, including our slow-cooker spinach and artichoke dip, call for fresh baby spinach, there's absolutely no reason why you can't use the canned variety instead.
Because all the ingredients in this tasty dip get mixed together, the texture of the spinach matters less than in other recipes when spinach takes center stage. On top of that, canned spinach provides convenience, allowing you to whip up a batch without having to run to the grocery store. There's only one caveat to note when making the fresh-for-canned swap and that's to thoroughly drain the spinach before mixing it with the other ingredients. Fail to do so, and you'll end up with soupy dip. To drain, either use a sieve or simply press the canned spinach against the side of a bowl.
Stuff It Into Italian Crespelles
Featuring a batter made out of eggs, all-purpose flour, water, milk, and salt, crespelles are Italy's answer to crêpes. Like their French counterparts, crespelles can be served sweet or savory. The main difference between these two paper-thin pancakes is that the Italian version is often substituted for pasta in dishes like lasagna and manicotti. That's the preparation style we use in our Tuscan spinach and ricotta cheese crespelle recipe.
Although our crespelle recipe calls for fresh baby spinach, the canned variety is more than
up to the task. In this recipe, canned spinach marries seamlessly with ricotta cheese, pecorino Romano cheese, eggs, salt, and nutmeg. What's more, the pancakes are topped with tomato sauce, something that makes it nearly impossible to detect the difference between fresh and canned spinach. When opting for the canned alternative, be aware that canned spinach may require less cooking time. Just focus on warming it up and you'll be golden. Another tip to consider is using less cheese. Canned spinach contains a fair amount of sodium, so you want to avoid over-salting the filling.
Enliven Your Frittata
Taking its name from "friggere," the Italian word for "fried," a frittata is essentially a crustless quiche enhanced with ingredients like meat, cheese, or vegetables. While we'll eat just about any type of frittata you put in front of us, we can't get enough of this easy spinach frittata recipe. Not only does the bright green of the spinach provide a striking contrast to the yellow of the eggs, but it packs a nutritional punch, contributing iron, vitamins C and E, potassium, and magnesium.
As if the eye-catching looks and the powerhouse nutrition facts weren't convincing enough, frittatas lend themselves to experimentation, especially when it comes to canned vegetables. This flexibility comes in handy when you're craving a simple weeknight dinner but only have canned spinach on hand. When using canned spinach, drain as much water as possible. If you forget this step, your frittata will end up more liquid than custard. You might also want to consider adjusting the amount of parmesan cheese, reducing it from the usual ⅓ cup to ¼ cup, in order to manage your sodium intake.
Turn It Into Cream Of Spinach Soup
Soup may not rank high on the list of sexy foods (and spinach soup even less), but hopefully, we can convince you to try our silky cream of spinach soup. Through some kind of food alchemy, this soup manages to be both light and rich at the same time. What's more, its luxuriously smooth texture and vivid green hue are bound to captivate your eyes and your taste buds. But what really sets this soup apart is its versatility. It effortlessly transitions from a comforting hot bowl to a refreshing chilled option, making it suitable as a winter appetizer or a satisfying summer lunch. When we say the possibilities are limitless, we truly mean it.
And here's the cherry on top: You can easily swap fresh spinach for canned spinach without compromising the dish's integrity. After all, you're going to blend it with potatoes, onions, and garlic anyway — who cares where it comes from? Instead of 2½ cups of fresh spinach, simply incorporate 10 ounces of the canned variety. With this simple modification, you're well on your way to crafting this delightful dish.
Keep Things Simple With Creamed Spinach
Renowned for its creamy, velvety texture and rich, indulgent flavor, creamed spinach is a classic side dish that graces the menus of many steakhouses and upscale restaurants. Besides being luxurious and comforting, it pairs beautifully with various meaty mains, such as steak, prime rib, or roast chicken. Classic creamed spinach recipes call for fresh baby spinach, but canned spinach yields equally delicious results.
This swap works because the creamy sauce, spiced up with a bit of salt, pepper, and nutmeg, does a great job hiding any taste differences. That's reason enough to try this substitution, but if you need more convincing, here it is — canned spinach greatly simplifies this recipe, eliminating the need to chop fresh greens and wait for the leaves to wilt in the pan. Of course, you should drain the canned spinach well before combining it with other ingredients, but overall, this is a fantastic time-saving option that doesn't compromise on flavor.
Canned Spinach Plays Well With Kohlrabi
When you're experimenting with a new ingredient like kohlrabi, it's a good idea to mix it with some familiar ones to keep things comfortable. That's exactly what we did with our creamed kohlrabi and spinach recipe. This veggie-filled, vegan-friendly side dish combines the potato-like flavor and texture of kohlrabi with the robust acidity of spinach to create a satisfying accompaniment to all of your favorite plant-based meals.
Originally, we used fresh baby spinach in the recipe, but if all you have is canned spinach, don't worry — it works just as well. The spinach gets cooked alongside the kohlrabi and is covered with a cashew cream sauce, so you won't even notice the difference. To make it, blend the cashew cream sauce, pan-fry the kohlrabi with aromatics in an oven-friendly pan, and then let the spinach and other veggies simmer in the sauce for a few minutes. After that, pop the skillet into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Top with extra cashews and serve immediately.
Use It As A Green Smoothie Base
Canned spinach might not be the first ingredient that comes to mind for a green smoothie, but it's a surprisingly convenient way to get some extra vegetables into your diet. What's more, it packs a nutritional punch without demanding a bunch of prep work, making it an excellent choice for those hectic mornings when you're craving a healthy breakfast without a lot of fuss.
What makes canned spinach work in smoothies is its adaptability. After thoroughly draining the salt water, you're left with a neutral, leafy base that easily blends with other fruits and vegetables. Indeed, spinach's subtle flavor profile allows other ingredients to take the spotlight while contributing an array of essential nutrients in the background. For the best taste possible, we recommend pairing spinach with sweet ingredients, like fruit or honey, and acids, like lemon or lime juice. For instance, we love the tropical combination of canned spinach, frozen mango, pineapple, Greek yogurt, and orange juice. We're also big fans of blending spinach with green apple, honey, milk, and a handful of mint leaves.
Put A New Spin On Pesto
Creamy, salty, and satisfying — we've got absolutely no gripes when it comes to basil-based pesto. But we're all about pushing culinary boundaries, so we often like to tinker with familiar recipes to uncover new taste sensations. That's exactly what we did with this almond mint pesto recipe. Almonds take the place of pine nuts, while spinach and mint stand in for basil. The result is a lusciously thick, vividly green pasta sauce infused with nutty, earthy undertones that's ready to enhance everything from pasta to soup.
You might notice that the original recipe asks for ½ cup of fresh spinach, but there's no reason not to use canned spinach in its stead. All of the ingredients get combined in the food processor, so there's little to worry about when it comes to flavor and texture. A few tips to get you started: make sure to thoroughly drain the spinach before chucking it into the food processor. You might also want to avoid adding extra salt, as canned spinach is already pretty high in sodium.
Add More Vegetables To Your Lasagna
As the epitome of family-friendly, customizable, and delectable Italian cuisine, lasagna will always hold a special place in our hearts. But as much as we love eating it, the preparation can be a bit daunting. Luckily, we've uncovered a clever solution: our crockpot vegetable lasagna. By harnessing the power of this handy appliance, lasagna transforms into an effortless culinary delight, perfect for any day of the week.
The benefits of using a crockpot over traditional methods are undeniable. It not only saves you valuable time, but it also reduces the amount of effort required. Still, when every minute counts, you might be on the search for even more ways to beat the clock. That's where using canned spinach enters the picture. We appreciate this swap for a few reasons. For starters, canned spinach easily combines with other vegetables, such as mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, and roasted red peppers, creating a nutritious, satisfying filling. What's more, it offers unwavering consistency, providing you with a dependable companion, meal after meal. Finally, unlike a lot of recipes that involve draining, you can take it easy here. Sautéing the vegetables helps eliminate excess liquid, ensuring a flawless dish every time.
Try Canned Spinach Chicken Florentine Casserole
The word Florentine describes not only Tuscany's capital and the people who live there, but also foods served with spinach. This intriguing link goes all the way back to Catherine de Medici, the Florentine noblewoman who became the Queen of France in the 16th century. Assuming de Medici's love of spinach was related to her place of birth (and not just her personal preferences), French subjects began referring to spinach dishes as Florentine.
Florentine creations grace menus far and wide, with one delectable example being our effortless chicken Florentine casserole. This uncomplicated, yet exquisite, dish seamlessly combines the essence of Florence with tender chicken morsels, a luscious cream of mushroom soup, and delicate egg noodles. To prepare it, brown the tenders in a large skillet for eight to 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine cooked egg noodles with canned spinach and cream of mushroom soup. Blend this creamy concoction with the pan-seared chicken in a casserole dish and top with mozzarella cheese. In just 15 minutes, you'll have a bubbling casserole that unites the flavors of Italy with the convenience of canned spinach.
Sautéing It With Aromatics Couldn't Be Easier
This no-fuss side dish is a testament to the magic that can be conjured up in the kitchen with minimal effort. In just a few steps, you can transform a humble can of spinach into a flavorful, aromatic delight. And since canned spinach is already prepped and ready for action, you'll have no trouble working this recipe into your weekly meal rotation.
To prepare this tasty accompaniment, heat a tablespoon of your preferred fat (vegetable oil or butter) in a large skillet. Next, cook sliced onions until browned. Allowing the onions to caramelize just a bit infuses the entire dish with a deep, rich flavor. Once the onions have become fragrant, add garlic cloves or powder and cook for another minute. In addition to smelling great, garlic's pungent aroma adds yet another layer of flavor to this basic side. Next, rinse and drain the canned spinach, then add it to the skillet. From there, it takes just a few minutes to warm everything up. A dash of salt and black pepper seals the deal, elevating this dish from simple to spectacular.
Give Canned Spinach An Indian Twist With Palak Paneer
Give your credit card a break and spare the Uber Eats driver a trip by embracing the convenience of canned spinach to make palak paneer. This vegetarian-friendly recipe is a green powerhouse, offering a fantastic (and delicious) way to boost your daily veggie intake with minimal effort. Our classic palak paneer recipe calls for blanched fresh spinach, but the canned version works like a charm when preparing this beloved Indian staple.
At first glance, it may seem unusual to replace the star ingredient with its canned counterpart. However, this culinary maneuver is a stroke of practical genius. The reason this swap works lies in the fact that the spinach ends up getting blended into a velvety sauce. From there, it's seasoned with flavor-packed spices like garlic, ginger, chili powder, coriander, turmeric, and cumin. Cubed paneer cheese comes in last, providing yet another way to mask the ho-hum flavor of canned spinach. In the end, all you'll taste are the fragrant spices and the creamy cheese.
Stuffed Chicken Won't Know What Hit It
Canned spinach truly shines when paired with other delectable ingredients, and that's precisely what we've done in our air fryer stuffed chicken breast recipe. Rather than leaving the chicken alone, we've elevated it to new heights by filling it with a tantalizing trio of cheeses — low-moisture mozzarella, parmesan, and cream cheese — along with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. These tasty morsels are air-fried at 375 F for 22 minutes, with a flip in the middle to ensure even cooking.
You'll notice that our recipe suggests using ½ cup of fresh spinach leaves. But once again, you have the creative freedom to opt for the canned alternative. Adjust the quantity according to your preference, ensuring you fill the chicken breasts to your heart's content. As is often the case with canned spinach, we recommend giving it a thorough rinse and drain before incorporating it into the stuffing. This simple step not only prevents the cheese mixture from becoming overly watery but also keeps sodium levels in check.
It's Quesadilla's New Best Friend
Whenever we're playing host or dealing with fussy eaters at dinnertime, these sheet-pan quesadillas always swoop in to save the day. We adore this cooking method for its hassle-free cleanup and the endless array of customization possibilities it offers. Among our favorite ingredient combinations is a mixture of bell peppers, onions, spinach, refried beans, and shredded cheese.
You'll typically find us using fresh spinach in this recipe, but if canned is all you have, feel free to toss it in. This recipe is incredibly forgiving, meaning that minor substitutions like this will go entirely unnoticed by the eager eaters gobbling them down. To assemble the fillings, sauté the peppers and onions together for four to five minutes, or until tender. Introduce the rinsed and drained spinach during the final minute of cooking. Next, spread a layer of refried beans onto the tortillas, followed by the savory veggie mixture. Finish by covering everything in a blanket of shredded cheese. Fold the tortillas and bake for 20 minutes in a 425 F oven. Serve them piping hot with generous dollops of sour cream, salsa, and guacamole.
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