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Restaurant-Style Creamed Spinach with Seared Scallops

Restaurant-Style Creamed Spinach with Seared Scallops
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Creamed spinach is a classic at Steakhouses and it lends itself well to low-carb or keto lifestyles. It is a great side dish to most proteins, including these fennel-seared scallops. While the cream, butter, and cheese certainly don’t scream low calorie, this low-carb side dish won’t spike blood sugar.

Tip: A simple yet elegant dinner that can make birthdays, anniversaries, or Valentine’s Day special.

4 seared scallops on a bed of creamed spinach on a white plate
Seared scallops and creamed spinach

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Jump to: RECIPE | Step by Step for Creamed Spinach | Creamed Spinach Pairings

Illustrated Step by Step for Creamed Spinach

Here is the visual summary of the recipe steps. For details and ingredient amounts, see the recipe card below:

Ingredients for creamed spinach.
Step #1: lay out and prep the ingredients for the creamed spinach
Onion, paprika, cream sauce for the creamed spinach.
Step #2: caramelize the onions for ~ 5 min. and then stir in garlic, spices, and zest. Add cream and heat gently to blend (do not boil)
Creamed spinach cooking in a skillet.
Step #3: Add the thawed spinach to the skillet and cook for ~5 minutes over medium-low.
creamed spinach in a white bowl.
Step #4: Serve creamed spinach in a bowl sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese.

These tips will help perfect your creamed spinach to restaurant quality:

  • Use heavy whipping cream or creme fraiche and reduce it by half in the skillet.
  • Add a touch of spice (I used smoked paprika).
  • Parmesan cheese adds a lot of “umami” flavor; you could use cheddar or other cheese if you prefer.
  • Use fresh nutmeg and grate it with a micro plane.

Take Note: If cooking over high heat, opt for “refined” olive oil rather than extra virgin. Extra virgin has a low smoke point and quickly turns rancid. Refined olive oil is also known as “lite” olive oil and it has a much higher smoke point.

Method for the Best-Seared Scallops

Here are the tips and tricks you need to perfect seared scallops:

  • Make sure the oil is very hot before placing the scallops in the skillet (you should see some smoke) to get a good sear,
  • Get the scallops as dry as possible before seasoning. Drain them and pat them dry with paper towels. The drier the better.
  • Scallops cook very quickly. They only need a couple of minutes on the first side and a minute on the flip side after turning.

More Pairings for Creamed Spinach as a Side:

For two other recipes that use scallops in delicious, unique ways, check out Seared Scallops in Grapefruit Butter, or Scallop Ceviche.

Dinner plate of seared scallops in grapefruit-butter sauce with side of green vegetables
Seared scallops on a bed of grapefruit butter sauce
Plate of Mexican spiced scallop ceviche
Low-carb Mexican scallop ceviche

While this recipe is a side dish to seared scallops, it is a classic with steak and also goes well with pork chops.

A sparkling wine or a crisp white wine like Riesling or Pinot Grigio would pair nicely with the fat content of the cream in the spinach.

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Creamed Spinach with Seared Scallops

4 seared scallops on a bed of creamed spinach on a white plate
Easy, delicious scallops pair with creamed spinach for an elegant weeknight dinner in a flash.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 302



  • 15-16 medium scallops thawed, drained and patted dry
  • 20 ounce frozen spinach 1-2 bags
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg grated
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan grated or flaked
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons Spanish paprika you can used smoked paprika, sweet paprika or hot paprika


  • Drain scallops thoroughly and lay out on paper towels to dry further.
    15-16 medium scallops
  • Place frozen spinach in a bowl and microwave until slightly cooked and thoroughly thawed.
    20 ounce frozen spinach
  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet and saute chopped onion until golden and caramelized (about 5 min).
    4-5 tablespoons olive oil, 1 medium onion
  • Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add paprika, zest, salt, and nutmeg and stir together. Add heavy cream and cream cheese to skillet and cook over low heat until heated through and thickened a bit (about 3-5 min).
    2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • Lower heat and add spinach and heat through (about 3-5 minutes). Sprinkle with parmesan and set aside (covered) while you make the scallops.
    1 tablespoon parmesan
  • In another skillet, heat 2-3 tablespoons oil until smoking (very hot). Make sure scallops are as dry as possible and season with salt, pepper and paprika (can use seasoning of your choice).
    1 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons Spanish paprika
  • Place scallops in skillet in a circular pattern starting at bottom of skillet (so you know where you started). Sear for a couple of minute (peek at one of them to make sure the bottom side is brown and seared). With tongs, turn them over in the same pattern as you laid them down.
  • Cook for only a minute on the flip side and remove to a platter. Serve with still-warm creamed spinach (spinach can be reheated if needed).



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Serving: 4gCalories: 302kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 15gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 1567mgPotassium: 728mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 17727IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 257mgIron: 3mg
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