Food Topic: Spinach
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Spinach goes to seed quickly in hotter temperatures so, due to our cooler temperatures the last several weeks, local spinach crops are still producing in abundance.  Fresh spinach is readily available year round in fresh bunches and pre-washed and packaged.

 Spinach is a very adaptable vegetable that has extraordinary nutritional value, especially when fresh, steamed or cooked in the specific dish, like shredded and mixed into a casserole or soup.  Spinach is a rich source of Vitamins A, C and E and researchers have identified at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as antioxidants and as anti-cancer agents.
 

There are 3 different kinds of spinach:

  • Savoy has dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. It is the type sold in fresh bunches in most supermarkets.
     

  • Flat/smooth leaf spinach has broad smooth leaves that are easier to clean than savoy. This type is often grown for canned and frozen spinach, as well as soups, baby foods, and processed foods.
     

  • Semi-Savoy is a hybrid variety. It has slightly crinkled leaves. It has the same texture as savoy, but it is not as difficult to clean. It is grown for both fresh market, and processing.

 

Spinach can be bought loosely or in prepackaged bags. Choose spinach that has vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender, and not be wilted or bruised. Avoid those that have a slimy coating as this is an indication of decay.

If only bagged spinach is available where you shop, make sure to check the back side of the bag for excess moisture and spoilage.

Spinach, whether bunched or prepackaged, should be triple washed to remove the sand and soil. Place the spinach in a sink full of cold water and swish the leaves around with your hands as this will allow any dirt to become dislodged. Remove the leaves from the water, empty the sink, refill with clean water and repeat this process until no dirt remains in the water (usually three times will do the trick). Cut away any overly thick stems to ensure for more even cooking. If you are going to use the spinach in a salad, you can dry it in either a salad spinner, spreading it out on a kitchen towel for a little while or by shaking it in a colander. If you are going to cook it, you do not need to worry about drying it well as the remaining water will serve to help it cook.

Shred fresh spinach and add to just about anything including egg dishes included deviled eggs, casseroles including lasagna and stuffed shells, soups, subs and used as bed of greens for under grilled foods like marinated chicken kabobs or fish, especially if you are trying to reduce the amount of rice, etc. in your meals and adding more fresh stuff.  Spinach makes a fabulous salad, whether you heat the salad dressing to make a wilted spinach salad or served cold. 


Wilted Spinach Salad w/Frizzled Onions

 1 lg onion, sliced thin

2 T olive oil

 1 # fresh spinach, triple washed as per instructions above

c of your favorite vinaigrette salad dressing

Optional ingredients: sliced almonds, sliced fresh mushrooms, bacon pieces, sliced strawberries

 Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add sliced onions and cook until light brown and crispy.  Approx. 10 minutes. Add salad dressing and bring to a simmer.  Pour over spinach, toss and serve immediately.  Serves 4-6 people.

 

 

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