Welcome to our second Seasonal Recipe Round-Up! This time we’re featuring spinach (and next time is rhubarb — see schedule below). I’m sharing my tips and a favorite recipe, and you can participate by sharing your own tips and/or recipes in the comments.
What is Spinach?
Spinach is a dark leafy green (like chard, kale, beet greens, collard greens, mustard greens). There are many varieties of spinach, categorized by leaf type. Savoy has curly, springy leaves. Then you’ve got flat-leaf spinach, and finally baby spinach. I find the flavor earthy and a little sweet. Definitely mild.
Though spinach can be grown year-round in the right conditions (not too hot, not too cold), its seasons are really March through May and September through October. Our property is cool (north-facing) and we’re just getting our gardens in — one of the first things I’ll plant will be spinach.
The Good and the Bad
Spinach one of the more nutritious vegetables, being high in vitamins and minerals, especially Vtamin C. However, it also (like other dark leafy greens) contains an anti-nutrient called oxalic acid. Oxalic acid binds with minerals in the digestive tract just as phytic acid does. To reduce oxalic acid, you should steam or ferment dark leafy greens. The recipe I’m sharing today is a fermented spinach recipe — spinach kraut. For more fermented green recipes, see my online class in lacto-fermentation or my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods.
How to Steam Spinach
Steam for just long enough to wilt the spinach (about a minute), but keep it brightly colored — this reduces oxalic acid yet preserves other nutrition. You can use a steamer basket, or you can put the spinach right in a few inches of simmering water in a pot.
Once steamed, drain the cooking water and discard it; it contains oxalic acid plus other impurities (like pesticides or nitrites if the produce was conventional). Then toss with additional ingredients or add to soups or dishes. For an example of this technique, see my Feta and Chard recipe.
You might run into recipes that call for an addition of greens to be cooked right along with everything else. This keeps the oxalic acid in the dish. Instead, steam the greens separately and add them to the dish after draining.
My Mom’s Lemon Spinach
This is my mom’s delicious and simple steamed spinach dish, and we made it just this week during her visit. We saute onions and garlic in butter while steaming the spinach separately. Then we toss them together, season with salt, and drizzle with lemon juice.
What About Green Smoothies?
It is best to add raw greens like spinach sparingly, rather than regularly. As an alternative, consider steaming the spinach, then adding it to the smoothie after it is cooled. If you have an abundance of spinach, steam it then freeze or dehydrate it to add to smoothies over time.
How to Store and Use Spinach
Store unwashed leaves in plastic bags in your refrigerator (preferably a crisper drawer) for 2 to 3 days, or up to a week. To use, wash and dry leaves. Trim off ends and any bad spots. Then use in recipes.
My Recipe: Spinach Kraut
In today’s Seasonal Recipe Round-Up, I’m sharing a fresh and lemon take on kraut — Spinach Kraut. We love to take this on picnics or serve alongside cold meats, cheese, crackers — or any kind of eggs!
Now, it is your turn to share!
How to Participate in the Seasonal Recipe Round-Up
Bloggers and non-bloggers, feel free to add a comment here with your favorite recipes or posts.
Please use real, whole ingredients in recipes, and preferably traditional methods of preparation. Whole ingredients means whole grains, vegetables, legumes, meats, and unrefined sweeteners. In order to keep the integrity of “nourishing” food, I will delete any recipes that use processed, boxed foods. Where possible, incorporate traditional methods of preparation, like soaking, sprouting and fermenting. The idea here is that your recipes and tips should help our readers find traditional methods for preparing seasonal vegetables.
Share Your Spinach Recipes and Tips!
Seasonal Recipe Round-Up Schedule: April through June
- Friday, April 27, 2012 — Chard
- Friday, May 11, 2012 — Spinach
- Friday, May 25, 2012 — Rhubarb
- Friday, June 8, 2012 — Asparagus
- Friday, June 22, 2012 — Strawberries
All seasonal recipe round-ups are (and will be) listed on the Recipes page.
Come back on Friday, May 25 for our rhubarb link-up in the Seasonal Recipe Round-Up.
This post is shared with Simple Lives Thursday.
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