SAUTEED SPINACH WITH MUSTARD SAUCE
When preparing spinach, just pinch off long tough stems and give the leaves a thorough rinse in a sink of cold water. Spin or shake as much water from the leaves as you can, then pat dry with paper towels or roll up in a kitchen towel to dry further before cooking. Excess water clinging to the leaves will make for watery results in the skillet, washing away the delicious olive oil and garlic coating. Because spinach is so voluminous before wilting in the heat of the pan, I use a Dutch oven for this recipe so I can cook it all at once. You can instead use a large skillet or saute pan, though you'll need to add the spinach a handful at a time so each batch can wilt to make room before adding the next.
You can use fresh spinach that comes in bags rather than bunches, if you prefer; you'll need three 12-ounce bags.
Makes 6 to 8 Servings
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
• 3 (1-pound) bunches spinach, tough stems removed, rinsed, and dried
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1. Stir together the mustard, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small dish; set aside.
2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large pan, such as a Dutch oven, over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 10 to 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the spinach (in batches, if needed) and stir carefully to evenly coat with the oil. Continue to cook, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the spinach is evenly wilted and bright green. Remove the pan from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Arrange the spinach on individual plates, drizzle the mustard sauce over, and sprinkle with pine nuts.
Do-Ahead Tips: The spinach can be trimmed and rinsed up to 4 hours in advance, wrapped in a kitchen towel or paper towels, and refrigerated. The mustard sauce can be made up to 8 hours in advance; refrigerate, but allow to come to room temperature before serving. The spinach should be cooked just before serving.
SWISS CHARD: Swiss chard, which I love, a delicious alternative to spinach in this recipe. When I was growing up, my dad's always supplied huge armloads of chard from late summer into fall, sometimes even early winter. I find many people just aren't quite sure how to cook Swiss chard; it's often undercooked, or when the center stem is not removed before cooking you may up with a mouthful of tough, stringy bits.
It's important to cut away chard's thick stem where it meets the leaf, since the two portions cook very differently. The leaves can then be like spinach, though require a few more minutes. If you care to use the stem portion, thinly slice it and sauté separately, to stir into the cooked leaves later.