It’s worth setting aside any prejudices about eating your greens for spinach. The almost bitter and rather distinctive taste can be delicious when correctly harnessed and its nutritional properties are very impressive.
It is believed that humans first began eating spinach in Asia, from where it was taken on trade routes to reach Europe in the 1300s. It has been found as an ingredient in a cook book from the fourteenth century which was used to prepare recipes for King Richard II.
While Popeye is a slight exaggeration, this green is certainly very good for you. Its iron and calcium levels are high but not particularly accessible, but there is plenty of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and other antioxidants.
Why buying fresh greens to cook you’ll need to buy plenty as the leaves reduce by about three quarters when cooked. They can be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag for a few days.
Tender baby leaves are best eaten raw in salads but more mature leaves can be a little tough unless cooked. Bacon, smoked haddock and feta cheese are all natural partners to this dark green leaf. However you are eating spinach, wash your leaves thoroughly and remove thicker stems.
To preserve nutrients, simply steam the leaves for five or ten minutes or saute.
Spinach and feta salad
To serve four:
- 450g baby spinach leaves
- 450g feta cheese, cut into cubes
- 250g cherry plum tomatoes
- 8 teapoons toasted pine nuts
- 1 red onion, sliced into rings
- Sherry vinegar and olive oil as dressing
Place all the leaves, feta, tomatoes, pine nuts and onion together in a bowl then drizzle with the sherry vinegar and olive oil. Toss the ingredients to coat them all in the dressing. Serve with lamb, chicken or some fresh crust bread.
Spinach and bacon salad
To serve four:
- 12 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
- 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2x 280g jars roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
- 2 x 400g tins borlotti beans, drained ad rinsed
- 150g baby spinach leaves
Dry fry the bacon until crispy then remove from the pan and set aside. Using the fat left in the pan from the bacon, add the sherry vinegar, peppers and beans and sizzle together until heated through. Toss with the baby leaves and bacon in a bowl, season and serve with a dressing of your choice.