Food Friday: Spinach

7 10 2011

I remember the first time I had spinach. It was, as all great food should be, at my Mamaw’s house. And she prepared it, as any good Southern farm girl should, cooked within an inch of its life, wilted, slathered in butter and so much salt.

And it was delicious.

I still eat spinach now every single day of my life. Literally. Most of the time now, it’s raw and in salads, on sandwiches, on burgers, casseroles, thrown into anything I can fit it in. You see, it’s delicious, and one of the healthiest leafy greens around. Doc C tells me I need more iron (lots of ladies do), and it’s packed with iron, vitamins, calcium, folic acid, potassium. It’s known to prevent cancer and it grows most of the year around in the South’s temperate climate (but most of it you’re buying at the stores probably comes from around my stomping grounds… up the road in Salinas, California).

So for today’s Food Friday, indulge me as I share a few of my favorite spinach tips.

  • Choose spinach with crisp, dark leaves that have a fresh fragrance. (Avoid those that are limp, or have yellow spots.)
  • To keep it fresh, my momma taught me this trick. Wrap it loosely in paper towels and store in the fridge in plastic. The paper towels will keep the moisture from spoiling and will keep it fresher for days.
  • I like spinach best with the stems removed, so I think it’s easiest to pull the leaves right off the stems, but it’s really not necessary (just tougher to eat with stems hanging out your lips like a bunny rabbit).
  • Wash spinach by placing a large bowl full of cool water and place the leaves in and swishing them around a bit. Then just let them stand so the dirt can settle to the bottom. Then just lift the delicate leaves out of the water.
  • Dry with a salad spinner, or just shake off the water. You can also lay them flat and blot off with a towel.
  • Cook spinach just until it begins to go limp or steam it by placing the washed, but undried leaves in a hot pan. Then cover and steam for 2 – 3 minutes. Then you can serve it steamed, or wrap it in a towel, hold over the sink and wring out the moisture. Then you can chop it up or use it however you like.
  • If you’re dethawing frozen spinach, twist in a towel to wring out all the moisture over a towel. This way, you can use the water for soup or other liquid. Spinach is a moist food, so drain it thoroughly before serving, so it doesn’t drain out on your other foods.
  • Be careful when serving spinach in aluminum or silver. The silver discolors the spinach and the spinach discolors the silver! Go figure.
  • One of my favorite parts about spinach? It goes great with bacon! Sprinkle crumbled bacon on salads, or saute in bacon fat and serve with salt and pepper. Nutmeg also goes great with spinach — especially for the fall. I also love a cobb salad made with spinach. The hard-boiled eggs are a great match with spinach as well.
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