Spinach was the Spanish secret for many years. This deep green mystery is thought to have originated in Persia and was brought to Spain by the Moors.
Eventually, the news and the leaves spread throughout Europe, becoming very popular. Catherine de Medici of Italian royalty fame, liked spinach so much that when she went to marry the king of France she brought cooks from her native Florence to prepare her favorite green veggie. To this day, a garnish of spinach is called “a la Florentine.”
Treat yourself just like royalty and procure some fresh spinach. You can select from good-old fashioned spinach, which is fully mature and has broad leaves, baby spinach or bagged spinach, which is usually cleaned and washed. We’ve seen bagged spinach that comes with all the trimmings to create a spinach salad. Use half the bag for a salad and the other half for freshly steamed greens. Whichever type of spinach you select, be sure the leaves are dark green and crisp looking.
There are advantages to eating spinach. Spinach has a great texture and flavor, adding pizzazz to salads and side dishes. This leafy green is a great source of folic acid, Vitamin A and potassium and a good source of Vitamin C and iron. Just for good measure, spinach also has small amounts of niacin, phosphorus and zinc. In the Middle Ages, spinach was used to prevent scurvy.
Use spinach where you usually use lettuce, on sandwiches, chopped in wraps or tacos or in salads. You’ll have to carefully wash fresh spinach to be sure you’ve eliminated all the sand that can cling to the leaves. Bagged spinach has this already done for you. To quickly, and we mean quickly, cook spinach, spray a frying pan with vegetable oil, sprinkle some chopped fresh garlic or dried garlic and get the pan really hot. Toss in the spinach and quickly sauté, turning constantly. This should take one or two minutes, tops. Remember that spinach is mostly water, so a pound of spinach will probably make only two portions. And because spinach is mostly water, you’ll want to store it in the refrigerator and use it within two days. Don’t wash spinach until you’re ready to use it, as it will get soggy.
Spinach and Pistachio Salad
6 cups torn fresh spinach
1/2 cup drained canned pineapple tidbits ( or diced fresh ripe pineapple)
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1/4 cup minced pistachios
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons pineapple juice
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1. Mix dressing ingredients together in a glass or plastic bowl, cover and refrigerate.
2. In a large bowl, mix together spinach and fruit.
3. Pour dressing over salad and mix well to coat.
4. Garnish with cheese and pistachios and serve
Hint: if you have a large quantity of this salad leftover, you can heat a sauté pan, spray with vegetable oil, and quickly sauté for a sweet and sour side dish.