Cooking Spinach is So Easy, and So Good.With fresh spinach available year-round, there are so many delightful recipes to try and new ways to serve spinach than ever. One of our favorite is a simple sauteed with a hint of onion, lemon and fresh basil. There is the ol' standby, not new at all, the creamed version that we adore but is so calorie laden (find the sauce recipe in my using baby spinach). But spinach itself is really healthy, as long as you do not add too many fats and carbs to it.
A few interesting facts:
- Cooking spinach actually increases its health benefits! Just half a cup of cooked spinach will give you thrice as much nutrition as one cup of raw spinach. That’s because the body cannot completely break down the nutrients in raw spinach for its use.
- As an exception to the advice above, research studies show that taking spinach in juice form is actually the healthiest way to consume it. Blend spinach with other vegetables or fruits to create a delicious glass of juice,
- Freezing spinach diminishes its health benefits. The way to get the best from the leaf is to buy it fresh and eat it the same day.
- Everyone talks about the benefits of spinach in nourishing the eyes and building bones. What few know is that it also very good for digestion. Spinach eases constipation and protects the mucus lining of the stomach, so that you stay free of ulcers. It also flushes out toxins from the colon.
- Another lesser known benefit of spinach is its role in skin care. The bounty of vitamins and minerals in spinach can bring you quick relief from dry, itchy skin and lavish you with a radiant complexion. source
Selection and Storage:Look for leaves that are crisp and dark green. Avoid leaves that are wilted, yellowed or bruised as well as those with thick central stems. Always sort and discard undesired leaves, even in prepackaged bags, as soon as you get home. Place unwashed leaves in a clean plastic bag (the veggie bags are worth the extra pennies) and store in vegetable bin up to 3 days.
Preparation and Cooking:Wash away the sandy soil that clings to the leaves by gently agitating in a large basin of water. I use my sink allowing the leaves to float to the top. Remove the leaves to a large colander and repeat the rinse 2 times or until no more trace of grit appears. Be sure to rinse the leaves from the packaged bags too to rid of any bacteria or storage solution. I always add a little white vinegar to the water and allow the leaves to set for about 5 minutes before draining. There is no aftertaste of vinegar.
Cooking spinach is so easy. A quick steam or saute is all that is needed to cook fresh spinach. You want to cook it until it is just limp, about 3 to 5 minutes depending on the quantity and tossing it about in the pan if sauteing. Flavor enhancers for fresh spinach, especially larger leaves that can sometimes become slightly bitter, are fresh basil, chives, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme and using freshly grind peppercorns, minced garlic, grated or diced onions along with a squeeze of lemon are the most common.
Escalloped Spinachthe spinach is coddled in a delectable "makes-as-it-cooks" sauce
about 6 servings
2 bunches of fresh spinach leaves, washed and stemmed
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
1/4 cup rich chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons grated onion
1/4 cup breadcrumbs or panko
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and chicken stock in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add spinach and cook about 4 minutes or until spinach is just limp. Remove and drain. Squeeze out moisture.
Add spinach to a shallow casserole or pie plate. Sprinkle the garlic and onion on top and pour the cream over the spinach. Place in preheated 350 degree F. oven and cook for 15 minutes or until bubbly around the edges. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top and place bits of the remaining butter scattered over the breadcrumbs. Cook another 15 minutes or until top is brown and most of the cream has cooked down in the spinach.