I have vivid childhood memories of my mom standing over the kitchen sink on Christmas day squeezing the water out of defrosted packs of spinach to make her famous spinach casserole. Later my sister took over the task and she'd be shuddering from the semi-thawed clumps in her hands. It always seemed like such a nuisance — and so cold!
So as an adult, I sort of tried to avoid frozen spinach all together. Only recently, however, I found out, thanks to my colleague Kelli, that you don't always have to bother defrosting and draining it. It turns out there are a handful of instances that you can use spinach straight from the freezer without an ill effect on the dish you're making.
Here's when you don't have to bother defrosting frozen spinach.
When You Don't Have to Defrost Frozen Spinach
Yes, you can actually skip the fussy step of thawing and squeezing out the liquid from frozen spinach more often than you might think. Anytime what you're making won't be ruined or made too soggy with excess liquid, feel free to use the spinach straight from the freezer. Things like smoothies and soup are great examples but also pasta and stir-fries, where the additional moisture will quickly evaporate in the hot pan.
When You Should Defrost Frozen Spinach
You will want to go the traditional route of defrosting spinach for things that wouldn't fare well with excess liquid, like eggs, pizza, calzones, and quesadillas.
One additional note: Using spinach straight from the freezer works best when it comes in a bag versus a tightly packed box, since the spinach stays looser and it's easy to take out just what you need without having to commit to the whole package.
How do you like to use frozen spinach?