By Jennifer A. Wickes
See Also: Spinach I; Popeye’s Secret Weapon; Leafy Greens
History / Geography
Spinach originates from the Middle East, most likely Persia or modern-day Iran. It was brought to Spain via the Moors somewhere between 800 AD and 1200 AD. Cultivation of spinach began in the USA around 1806.
Currently, California & Texas are the United States' major producers.
There are three main varieties of spinach:
Savoy: curly, dark green leaves.
Flat / Smooth-leaved: typically used for processed foods such as canned, frozen, soups and baby food.
Semi-Savoy: not as curly as the Savoy.
Spinach is available all year long.
How to Select
Choose dark green leaves with no sign of yellowing, wilting or bruising.
Store in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for 3 - 7 days.
Spinach is filled with iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and calcium. Spinach is excellent for cleansing, purifying and restroing balance to the intestines. Also, spinach contains oxalic acid which prevents the body from absorbing the iron and calcium in spinach. To increase the chances of your body's absorption of iron, spinach should be consumed with a Vitamin C-filled item, such as orange juice or tomatoes.
Spinach has long been linked to prosperity. Eat spinach and increase your chances of making more money!
The French term "a la florentine" in recipes indicates that the recipes has spinach as a major ingredient.
Zinfandel Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chenin Blanc.
Allspice, basil, cardamom, cayenne, chervil, coriander, mace, nutmeg, sesame seeds; as well as aged cheeses (Parmesan), chicken, noodles, garlic, onions, shallots, and other dairy products.
1 lb. fresh = 10 cups; 1 1/2 c. cooked
10 oz. frozen = 1 1/2 cups; 1 c. cooked and drained
When wanting to use more spinach in you diet, try substituting spinach in recipes that call for turnip greens, beet greens, kale, Mexican spinach or New Zealand spinach.
Also, try adding spinach to sandwiches or tacos instead of lettuce!
Due to the fact that spinach is grown in sandy soil, wash thoroughly in cool water to remove all grit.
For cooking: Cooking spinach causes for a more acidic flavor, hence many recipes will call for butter or cream added to the recipe to counteract the spinach flavor. Spinach may be steamed, sauteed or braised. Please note that when cooked, spinach will shrink by 90%!
For eating raw: Spinach is excellent fresh in salads. Using younger spinach, which is smaller, will make for a more tender leaf.
Spinach Salad with Warmed Balsamic Vinaigrette
by Jennifer A. Wickes
• 4 cups spinach, fresh
• 1/2 red onion, sliced
• 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
• 1/2 cup walnuts
• 2 strips of bacon
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
• 1/8 tsp. pepper
Preheat the oven to 450F.
Fry the bacon until crispy. Drain on a paper towel.
Toss the tomatoes in a bowl with the oilive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.
Add the spinach, onion, walnuts, cooled tomates and crushed bacon in a bowl and toss.
by Jennifer A. Wickes
Yields: 4 servings
• 2 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
• 3/4 cup olive oil
• 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
• 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
• 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
• 1/8 tsp. dried basil
• 1/8 tsp. onion powder
• 1/8 tsp. salt
Combine the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, basil, oregano, garlic powder and onion powder in a bowl. While whisking with one hand, slowly pour the olive oil into the balsamic vinegar mixture.
Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds.
Toss with the spinach salad and serve.
by Jennifer A. Wickes
Yields: 2 servings (or 4 snack-sized servings)
• 1 1/2 cups white or brown rice -- cooked
• 3 tablespoons Ranch-style dressing
• 3 tablespoons prepared hummus
• 2 tortillas
• 1/2 cup spinach
• 1/2 cup carrots -- shredded
• 1/2 cup cucumber -- sticks
• 1 green onion -- chopped
• sesame seeds -- toasted
In a small bowl, mix together the rice and dressing, and set aside.
Place tortillas on a cutting board and cut in half; spread some hummus onto each tortilla half, and divide rice mixture amongst halves. Dampen the hands with water and spread rice evenly over tortilla. Top with carrots, spinach, cucumbers and onions. Carefully, roll each tortilla half into a cone. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
Yields: 8 servings
• 3 cups cooked great northern beans
• 3 cups cooked kidney beans
• 2 cloves garlic -- minced
• 2 cups carrots -- diced
• 2 cups onions -- diced
• 2 cups celery -- diced
• 2 cups tomatoes -- chopped
• 2 cups zucchini -- diced
• 8 ounces spinach, chopped
• 2 potatoes -- peeled and cubed
• 1 tablespoon dried parsley
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1/2 cup red wine
Puree the great northern beans. Put into a big stock pot (10 qt) with the kidney beans. Saute the garlic, carrots, onions and celery until onions are just turning translucent. Add to pot. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and fill the pot with water to within 1 inch of the rim. Simmer for about 1 1/2 hour or until potatoes are soft. Add salt if desired AFTER the full cooking time.
Note: Add more water if you prefer a less thick soup.
With over 25 years of cooking experience and a certification in Food and Nutrition, Jennifer A. Wickes is a professional freelance food writer, recipe developer and cookbook reviewer. For more information about Jennifer or her work, please visit her home page