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One our family’s favorite steakhouse side dishes used to be creamed spinach, but after switching our diet to AIP/Paleo we bid a sad farewell to dairy products and the creamy, gooey, recipes that called for them.  The following recipe, which attempts to duplicate the comfort-food quality of traditional creamed spinach, combines strict AIP ingredients with an unusual veggie for extra nutrient-density and variety: the opo squash. Found in Asian and other ethnic supermarkets, the opo squash has a scad of alternate names including nam tao, bottle gourd, cucuzza squash, and calabash. While it looks something like a light green eggplant, it is not a nightshade, but in the gourd family and has a texture similar to firm zucchini when cooked. We enjoy this dish at least once a week and it is especially delicious when served with the Parsnip Gnocchi from Comfort Bites.IMG_4897

AIP Creamed Spinach with Opo Squash

Serves 8

1 14oz. can Aroy-D full-fat coconut milk, plus 1/2 cup

1/8 tsp. ground mace

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. dried marjoram

1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

3 Tbsp. bone broth

1 14oz. can Aroy-D full-fat coconut milk, plus 1/2 cup

1 1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste, divided

2 large opo squash, chopped (about 3 cups)

2 Tbsp. coconut oil, lard, or duck fat

10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed, with water pressed out

1. In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk, mace, garlic and onion powders, marjoram, yeast, broth and 1 tsp. salt. Place over medium to low heat and simmer, stirring often, about 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and set aside until squash is ready.

2. With a paring knife or vegetable peeler, peel the opo squash. Cut off both ends and slice in half length-wise. With a spoon, scrape out the pith and seeds, and dice the squash into half-inch cubes. Heat coconut oil in a medium-sized pot or saucepan and saute the opo until easily pierced with a fork. If the squash has released a lot of liquid, feel free to drain some off.

3. When the opo squash is fork-tender, add the cream sauce. Bring to a good simmer, and then throw in the thawed, squeezed spinach. Cook until heated through and serve. 


*You should be able to find Aroy-D canned coconut milk in Asian or other ethnic grocery stores. With a high fat content and no gross preservatives or added ingredients, it’s AIP-friendly and a wonderful pantry staple. We substitute it in almost any recipe that calls for milk or cream, including ice cream, whipped cream, and even dips.