Spinach, Spinach, and more Spinach!
Since spinach is simply delicious any day of the year, it is a regular ingredient in my personal test kitchen. I’ve experimented with a bunch (no pun intended—really) of recipes only to find that it is excellent in most everything. Even those who aren’t fans of this super food will find it hard to resist most of the recipes.
Here at Jaquo, we have so many spinach recipes they have their own section. Perhaps one of them will be just the dish you need to make your day sparkle.
Ever since I was little I have loved spinach. Of course part of that may have been due to Popeye and friends. I was fascinated how he could gulp down a whole can the way he did. I confess to trying bigger and bigger bites to see if I could do it too. Never did manage a whole can though. Probably a good thing. Back then we usually had it served from a can, just like Popeye, so it was well cooked. It’s a little hard to picture him stopping to eat fresh spinach on a plate with a fork.
Today my preference is always for fresh. I’ll buy a fresh bunch for cooking and a bag for salads. When not using it for a salad I tend to put it in everything from soup to sandwiches. All seem to taste better with spinach added.
One of the top foods for nutrients
Besides, it is so good for you, especially when fresh steamed, or boiled very briefly. It’s very low calorie. One cup raw has only 7 calories. Yet it is rich in iron, high in calcium, antioxidants, and folic acid. It contains vitamins A, C, E, B2 and B6, magnesium, manganese potassium, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Imagine a salad including four cups of spinach, less that thirty calories, yet so much nutrition included! Spinach, as a leafy green, tops nearly every lists for healthy eating, especially brain and heart health. That makes it essential in my diet.
Delicious fresh taste
On top of that it is delicious. It tastes wonderful in a salad, wilted or fresh, with strawberries, other fruits, and other greens. It is a perfect as a main dish with garbanzo or pinto beans, or sautéed with chicken, or pasta, makes a tasty florentine sauce for meat, fish or poultry, or a colorful side dish, creamed or plain.
If you are a juicer, you know what a popular ingredient it is in juice drinks and smoothies. There are even a few dessert recipes that call for spinach, but I haven’t gone that far yet.
You can see there is much to appreciate about simple spinach. Which is no doubt why it has its own National Spinach Day on March 26th to celebrate. Personally I think this leafy green deserves kudus year round.
How many types of Spinach are there?
I was surprised to learn there are hundreds of types of spinach. Basically they are divided into the 3 main categories of savoy, flat leaf, and semi-savoy.
Flat leaf is the most common, and usually what we find in grocery stores. It’s among the easiest to grow, since it can be grown in any climate. It is strong, resistant to disease. Since flat leaf is easier to clean with the smooth, flat leaves so it’s easier to get to market. When bought as baby spinach it has a sweeter flavor making it perfect for salads or raw dishes. The mature spinach is better for baking and cooking.
Savoy spinach has a curly, crinkly leaf that is most popular used in the baby stage. It’s usually picked within 15 to 35 days of growth (compared to 45 to 65 for mature spinach). It grows best in early spring since it’s not fond of hot weather. It’s crisp taste makes it a treat served raw in salads or on sandwiches It is quite a bit more difficult to clean because of all the crinkles.
Semi Savoy is a hybrid of the two, making it a nice blend. You get the crispness of savoy with the hardiness of the flat leaf spinach. It is one of the more popular types grown at home. It grows a bit more upright so isn’t as likely to be mud coated, and it’s shape is more easily cleaned. It can be grown in the winter even, in milder climates, and in the other three seasons it will grown everywhere. It tastes great raw in salads, yet is able to be cooked longer much like flat leaf.
How to Sneak Spinach into nearly every meal
There is one tip I have discovered that saves time and clean up. If I know I will be cooking the next couple of days, I will run a half bag to a whole bag through my Ninja Master Prep Professional (review here).
In less than 12 seconds it chops the spinach finely, as you see in the photo here. Seal it in a bag then you have it handy to grab for any dish you prepare.
I really do throw some in to almost every dish I fix now, including tuna salad and sauces. Cooked, you can use it as you would parsley.
- Add it to meatballs Use cauliflower too and decrease the amount of meat needed.
- Saute it, and have in a delicious sandwich .
- It’s good in any egg dish, chopped fine or left whole.
- It’s fabulous on Pizza.
- Great in lettuce wraps.
- It’s good in egg salad and chicken salad .
- Use it in tacos with or without lettuce too.
- Finely chopped add to gravy and sauces.
- Include in every soup you make.
- Blend it in quiche.
- Raw as a salad.
- It’s delicious in a burrito or enchilada.
- In every quesadilla
Had enough? Wait! There’s still more
- Add it in meat loaf.
- Use on sandwiches and burgers instead of lettuce.
- Include some when you make tuna for a tuna sandwich.
- Add to any beans, including refried.
- Add color to potato salad with spinach finely chopped.
- Great in any wrap, tortilla, flatbread recipe.
- Try it layered with cream cheese on deli ham. Roll up and you can have a healthy snack.
- Toss some finely chopped spinach to your pasta sauce, white or red. It’s wonderful.
- Add some to your favorite Chili recipe.
- Of course, throw some in smoothies and juice drinks.
- Make spinach soup.
- Add to cream cheese with onion, spread on celery for a yummy snack.
- Add to sour cream or yogurt for a dip, hot or cold.
Did you know?
- It’s part of the chenopod family that includes beets, chard and quinoa as well.
- A pound of spinach cooks down to about a cup! No wonder it seems like I never have enough.
- Spinach is one of the top most nutritious vegetables you can eat. I listed the vitamins and minerals it contains earlier. It’s aids digestion, flushes toxins, and protects the mucus lining of the stomach. It’ even good for your skin. It relieves itchy skin and improves your complexion.
- It has been known to protect against inflammation, cardiovascular issues, cancer, and bone problems.
- It is the top food to eat to maintain your brain’s health (spinach and other leafy greens like kale top the list).
- Juicing spinach is supposedly one of the healthiest ways to eat it, but cooking it (fast boil or steam) can be healthier than raw, because our bodies are unable to break down all the nutrients when it is raw.
- Oxalic acid in the plant may stop the absorption of calcium and iron in spinach unless paired with something like mandarin oranges, which is high in Vitamin C. One more reason to love spinach salad with mandarin oranges–besides the taste.
- Freezing lessens the nutritional value
Spinach in History…
Spinach is thought to originate in Persia (now Iran and surrounding countries). Traders carried to India, then China. The Saracens brought it to Sicily. It first appeared in England and France in 14th century, through Spain. The Spanish are thought to have first brought it to America.
In the 1500’s Catherine de Medici, then queen of France, liked spinach so much she served it at every meal. Since she was born in Florence, that is where we got the name “florentine’ for recipes.
No matter how you fix it, add more to your diet today. It is an easy thing to fit several servings into every day without even noticing it.
June 16, 2015
Good article, Merry. I grow a ton of spinach and use it in a lasagne, with added nutmeg & ground pistachio nuts. Topped with a pint of really cheese heavy sauce, it’s delicious. And if it’s good enough for Pop-eye …
June 16, 2015
Great suggestions here – more of a reminder for me as I tend to forget to add spinach to dishes even though I love it! Added it to our last lasagne though 🙂
June 14, 2015
I am once again inspired and can almost smell the spinach already!
June 14, 2015
I even tried some spinach mixed in with a brownie recipe; it wasn’t even noticeable, the brownies were still very tasty. I was inspired by the Deceptively Delicious cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld.
June 14, 2015
I’ve never tried that, but now I will have to! Haven’t seen too many desserts with spinach. One rather gross failure was a spinach muffin! HA! Thanks for your comments
June 14, 2015
Haha, I don’t know about spinach muffins being a dessert. It sounds interesting though. What all is in it?