Monday, May 24, 2010

"I'm strong to the finich cause I eats me spinach.."

We're now knee-deep in spinach season, so I'd like to share my latest experiments with this leafy green. For the most part, my spinach consumption was relegated to the Baby Spinach Salad (topped with wheat berries and dried fruit, it's delish), and only recently had I ventured into the Sauteed Spinach arena. However, eating seasonally means you need to get creative, especially when there's still only a few veggies available. Here's two of my new favorite ways to eat spinach:

Spinach Pasta
This is an adaptation of a recipe I found in the New York Times (mine is better)

A bunch of spinach (like, literally, a bunch of it)
1/2 onion, chopped
garlic, a few cloves, minced, or chopped, if you're lazy like me (I like to call it "rustic")
a protein -- chicken is good, and even sardines are yummy in this, trust me on this one
lemon (for the juice)
whole wheat spaghetti

1. Boil the pasta. Soak your spinach (it not only needs to be clean, but wet, so just let it sit in a bowl of water until you're ready).
2. In a pan, in a little olive oil, saute the onions, then garlic and capers.
3. Throw in your protein and cook it up.
4. When everything else is pretty much cooked, drop in your spinach directly from the bowl of water into the pan (the water will help steam it). Keep flipping it over into all the yummy stuff until it just starts to wilt, then immediately remove it from the heat, before it turns into black mush.
5. Toss it all with the rinsed pasta, squeeze some lemon juice over it, sprinkle some parm, and you're good to go.

* Don't skip the capers, they really make this dish!

Sausage Soup (or Cheater's Italian Wedding)
This is a twist on a soup my mom makes, using spinach instead of kale, and leaving out the cream. You could use whichever green you happen to have on hand (I just always have spinach in my fridge).

1 cup brown rice, uncooked
a link or two of sausage
spinach to taste (you can use frozen in a pinch)
1/2 onion, chopped
a box of broth (I used organic veggie, but chicken broth would work too)

1. Cook the rice according to your package. Make sure it is very saturated with the water (if it's dry, it'll soak up all your broth!) DO NOT cook the rice in the soup, if you want any broth left.
2. Saute the onion in a little olive oil, then toss in the sausage (take off the skin and break it up first). Cook the sausage through until done.
3. Pour in the broth, add about a cup of water, and bring to a boil. Toss in the spinach and let it wilt in the broth.
4. Turn down the heat, stir in the rice. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan and some hearty bread. I guess you could use something healthier like chicken, but I think it would be boring then, the sausage really adds delicious spiciness. My mom's variation uses kale, chopped potatoes instead of rice, and she puts a splash of cream in at the end. You're welcome to try that out too.

Happy eating! And please let me know if you try (or adjust) any of the recipes I share!

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