A friend gave me the “New York Times Magazine” for April 8th, 2012 and on page 50-51 is a spread titled “The Wild Bunch”; a small tribute to and apparently mandate for Spinach in its not-so-raw form. It claims that Spinach should be enjoyed wilted, steamed, braised, superslow-cooked, or if you’ve exhausted these options than flash-fried or boiled. But, hopefully these methods, as it so emphatically claims, will not lead you to consume the ‘wild’ green leaves in a, gasp, salad! Well, I have to disagree if nothing else than to keep my dignity (after all my raw spinach salad with dinner tonight was the perfect accompaniment), however, maybe food writers know something I don’t know about enhancing flavors and optimizing taste. I did appreciate their recommendation to pick “dirty spinach, …especially if it comes in bunches, still attached to the little pink “crowns” that attach leaves to root (Eat those; they’re good.)” I’m always a fan when vegetables are still recognizable as being grown in soil. To follow-up, however, the Spinach we’ve been selling recently (leaves in bags) hasn’t had those little pink crowns because we have been able to maintain the plant’s vitality for many weeks of harvesting, by only selecting outer leaves and allowing new, inner leaves to grow in their place.
So I’ll leave this post with a few recipes that were in the article. The article says that 2 pounds of spinach is not too much for four people and that these recipes were tested using 1.5 pounds. Hint: the bags of loose spinach we have been selling are between .5-.75 pounds, so adjust the recipes accordingly, or buy more than one bag!!!
Superslow-cooked with rice and carrots
Put 1/2 pound carrots and 6 cups water in a pan on high heat. Bring to a boil, then add 1/2 cup rice. When it returns to a boil, add spinach and simmer. Cook, stirring, until carrots are tender, 1/2 hour. Add 3 cloves minced garlic and 2 tablespoons butter.
Braised with Soy and Ginger
Skip the butter. Put 2 tablespoons sesame oil in a large saucepan, along with 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Add spinach and braise until completely wilted and soft, about 10 minutes.
Steamed with Parmesan
Put washed and still wet spinach in a covered pot over medium-high heat. Put 2-4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir occasionally until foam subsides and butter turns nut brown. When spinach is tender, after 3-5 minutes, drain, drizzle with butter and add 1/2 cup each toasted bread crumbs and shaved Parmesan; toss to combine.
Wilted with Skirt Steak
Sear 8 ounces skirt steak in a large skillet over high heat, turning once. Remove, let pan cool a bit; then add 2 tablespoons butter and chopped spinach; stir until it wilts, 30 seconds or so. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 chopped tomatoes and 1/2 chopped red onion and cook another minute. Toss and top with the sliced steak; 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese makes a nice garnish.
Wilted with Bacon
Render 4 thick bacon slices in olive oil until nearly crisp, then remove. Toss spinach with a sprig of tarragon in the rendered fat to wilt; add 1/2 pound chopped mushrooms; top with bacon.
Braised with Eggs
Put 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When it melts, add spinach, one handful at a time, stirring, and sauté until it wilts, about 5 minutes. Form 4 nests in the spinach and crack an egg in each. Cover and cook until egg whites are set, about 4 minutes. Garnish with shaved Parmesan.