Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Spinach (a.k.a. confirming my rep as a culinary nerd)

First, let me just say I am working from home today to watch the inauguration. All I can say is Wow. Today is a great day.

And now, on to the spinach. Spinach has had the benefit of at least one free schill, but let's face it, Popeye is a little out of date. I know this because I made a Popeye reference a few days ago to someone about 10 years younger than me, and they thought I was talking about the fast food chain. Yup, I'm looking for gray hairs in the mirror right now.

Now, I know I've made the case for unpopular veggies before, but few actually face the negative press of spinach. Take steakhouses, for example. Apparently, spinach is so unpalatable it needs to be literally drowned in butter and cream to make it tolerable. And I respectfully submit that canned spinach is the ultimate way for parents to guarantee their children will never want to touch a green veggie again.

But last night I was out with the SO and we had a spinach salad that was, in his words, perfection. Delicate baby spinach with goat cheese, slivered almonds, macintosh apple slices and cranberries with a cranberry beer vinaigrette. The fresh bright flavour and delicate chew of the spinach was a great contrast to the crisp apple, soft cranberries, and creamy cheese. And baby spinach is still tough enough to stand up to a heavier dressing.

In fact, baby spinach is an excellent salad green with an assertive, but not aggressive taste and a beautiful rich green colour. But why stop at fresh? After all, anyone who has tried to cook with fresh spinach knows of it's disconcerting habit of shrinking to 1/20 of its original volume in precisely two seconds flat, leaving one cursing the day she didn't listen to her mother and buy four bags instead of two while she serves her spinach dish in miniscule portions to her ten guests. Ok, maybe that's just me. In any case, frozen spinach is a fabulous alternative that has the advantage of already being (ahem) volume reduced. It is the base of one of my favourite quick soups (full disclosure, I stole this from Mary's CRON Diary blog)--pop about 150g of frozen spinach in a microwave for two minutes until nice and hot. Dump it in a blender with some hot chicken broth and 15g feta. Blend (with the lid off and a towel thrown over the top, unless you really like playing hide and seek with little chunks of spinach for months after) until smooth, and enjoy. I usually have to throw the soup back in the microwave for 30 seconds, taking the total production time to about 7 minutes. But you can also throw it in an omelette or toss it with seasonings and stuff a chicken breast or a pork chop with it.

Did I mention frozen spinach is cheap, tastes good, and keeps forever? And I mean seriously, forever. I discovered a bag in my freezer I haven't touched in a year, tried it yesterday, and yup, still good. Oh yeah, and I heard somewhere it had TONS of nutrients in it? For anyone on a budget, monetary OR caloric, spinach is a great deal. Just try it. Grab a bag. It'll be around $1 and I promise you you won't be disappointed.


Marc said...

Today is a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cried during his speeach. Real men cry ;-)

Spinach is one of my absolute favorites.


icancarryallthebagsandthebabiestoo said...

I cried during the speech too. I think that my entire neighborhood knows how much I love President Obama now- my hooting, clapping and screaming were all tell tales.

Anyway, I love, love, love, love, love spinach. I think that Popeye actually contributed to this love. As a child, it was the only veggie that I'd eat. As a mom, it is one of two vegetable that my four year old will eat (the other being brussel sprouts.)

The best salad that I have ever had was baby spinach, gorgonzola cheese, tomatoes, bacon and raspberry vinegarette. Mmmmmm...

tokaiangel said...

I wanted to cry at the speech but I didn't want to do it in front of my lodger!!

I'm a massive spinach fan, and had completely forgotten the joys of frozen spinach. During the summer ALLLL my salads have baby spinach in. It ROCKS.

TA x

Cave Cooking said...

Marc-I definitely teared up too. It's an amazing thing to watch such a peaceful transition of power in such a huge country. Makes me proud!

I can carry-any salad with bacon is high on my list of yummy!

TA-Love to hear people sharing the spinach love!

Anonymous said...

I'll have to look for the frozen stuff! I eat fresh spinach every day in sandwiches or in scrambled eggs/spaghetti sauce... it's fantastic. Don't think I've ever had frozen spinach so I look forward to trying it.

- Sagan

Anonymous said...

Im actually insulted that anyone would hate spinach. That is probably on the top of my list in terms of veges. It tastes great, I love the wilted feeling - to me that equals comfort food. Also it is absolutely jam packed with nutrients and minerals. How dare they!

Cave Cooking said...

darwinstable-I agree wholeheartedly. Spinach is WONDERFUL stuff :)