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Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes

3 better takes (calorie-wise) on beloved veggie recipes

The Best (and Simplest) Creamed Spinach

Serves 8

2 teaspoons olive oil

3 large garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 package (8 ounces) light (Neufchatel) cream cheese

2 packages (16 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, reserving juice

½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil, garlic and nutmeg in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until garlic starts to sizzle and turn golden. Add cream cheese and as it starts to melt, add spinach and its liquid; cook until sauce is thick and bubbly and spinach is tender yet still green, about 5 minutes. Stir in cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

A Better Broccoli-Cheese Casserole

Serves 8

2 pounds broccoli crowns, cut into florets

Salt

4 large eggs

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

Ground black pepper

4 ounces (1 generous cup) extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon butter, melted

12 saltine crackers, crumbled

Place broccoli, 1/2 cup water and sprinkling of salt in a large skillet; cover, turn burner on high and cook until water has almost, but not completely, evaporated and broccoli is bright green and tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn onto doubled paper toweling to cool. (Can be covered and refrigerated a couple of days ahead.)

About 45 minutes before serving, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk flour into eggs until smooth and then whisk in milk, along with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Place broccoli in a single layer in a 9-inch casserole or a baking dish of similar size — I used a gratin pan. Sprinkle with half the cheese, then pour the egg mixture over the broccoli. Top with remaining cheese. Mix butter and crackers and then sprinkle over casserole. Bake until custard is set and crackers are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve.

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