I would like to say that I loved spinach as a kid, but I mostly detested it along with other vegetables like peas and Brussels sprouts. But now I adore them all. I remember my mom using the Popeye cartoon as an example of why I should eat spinach: so I would grow up big and strong. I'm pretty sure that cartoon was created as propaganda by a team of spinach farmers and mothers. As children, we are all genetically programmed to dislike bitter flavors. That is why kids don't like most vegetables. As we grow into adults our taste buds develop to appreciate and enjoy bitter and even hot and spicy foods.
This simple recipe for spinach is almost too easy for me to include here, but it's my favorite way to enjoy it. It begins with sautéing thinly sliced garlic and a big pinch of red pepper flakes. The spinach is added and cooked until it wilts. For a bit of crunch, I garnish with toasted pine nuts. The flavor of the sautéed spinach is hardly bitter. There really is no excuse to boil or blanch spinach. Doing so just removes all the nutrients and blackens the leaves. Try this side dish with a wonderful dinner and you will see how rewarding it is. I recently paired it with roast beef, mashed potatoes, and Côtes du Rhône wine.
This fall I'm participating in A Way to Garden's first Fall Fest, a continuation of Summer Fest. Every Wednesday a summer produce will be the theme. This Wednesday it's spinach. To participate all you have to do is something as simple as leaving a comment or linking to a favorite blog post or informational site. You can share gardening tips, recipes, and/or pictures. Visit the Fall Fest link for more information. Many other blogs are participating and it would be great to see how far the conversation goes.
Sautéed Spinach with Garlic
Note: Also try this recipe with dandelion greens or arugula.
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-1/4 pounds spinach leaves, trimmed, washed, and dried
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
Warm oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add red pepper flakes; saute 1 minute. Add spinach, tossing and turning, until wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a platter, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with pine nuts. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings as a side dish.