You gotta eat your spinach, baby!

Spinach? Seriously? YES!  This isn’t your mom’s over-nuked limp mound of tasteless stringy mush.  No sir, it’s so much more.  At least, it has the potential to be so much more.

Spinach is simply one of the tastiest and more versatile greens there are.  Few greens can be served raw or cooked and be enjoyable both ways.  While there are a few recipes for cooked/grilled lettuce, they’re just not that prevalent (for a reason, I say).  Other greens: mustard, collard, etc. can just be down-right bitter, and you wouldn’t dare serve them raw.  Not so with spinach.

First, it’s an instant salad.  Grab a handful and toss with your favorite dressing.  Or, you can get creative.  Add bacon, walnuts, goat cheese, and toss with a warm cherry vinaigrette that just barely wilts the leaves, and you’ve got a tasty treat.

Second, it’s an instant veggie to go into practically any soup or sauce you make.  I put it into my black-eyed peas with rice to add some color, flavor and vitamin D.  You can throw it into your favorite marinara sauce before you ladle it onto your pasta.  (For that matter, you can try ladling your favorite sauce over a bowl of hot pasta and fresh spinach– or JUST a bed of spinach if you’re watching carbs.  Really.)  You can throw it into a batch of navratan korma or even pad thai.  The possibilities are endless!

Third, it really can be wonderful cooked and served beside a steak, a fish filet, a piece of grilled tempeh or tofu.  But, you have to learn how to cook it.  It doesn’t take much heat at all.  Try this:

  • Start with a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a pan (remember to start with a cold pan.  throwing olive oil into a hot pan can easily burn it.  if you burn the oil, best to throw it out, wipe down the pan and start fresh.)
  • Throw in a bit of chopped, minced or sliced garlic– whatever your preference.
  • Once the oil is hot and the garlic has just begun to sizzle, throw in a pinch of salt (I prefer Kosher salt), stir a few times, and then turn off the heat.
  • If you didn’t hear me before– turn off the heat
  • Throw some freshly washed and dried spinach into the pan, and using either tongs or two forks, simply turn the mound of spinach over and over, coating the leaves in the hot oil.  The residual heat from the pan and the heat of the oil is enough to cook the leaves.
  • Serve soon.  Don’t let the leaves stay in the pan– they will turn to mush.  If you’re not ready to eat them right away, at least put them on a plate away from the heat until you’re ready to serve.
  • Crack some black pepper and maybe a squirt of lemon juice, and you’re ready to munch on some tasty goodness.

You gotta eat your spinach

baby,
that’s the only thing to do.
It’ll keep you kinda healthy too,
and what it did for Popeye,
it’ll do for you,
you gotta eat your spinach,

baby,

it’ll keep you nice and strong,

and the stronger you are,

the longer you’ll live,

and the longer I’ll have to love you.

From the song sung by Shirley Temple


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