Spinach, with its vibrant green leaves and rich nutrient content, is a versatile and nutritious addition to any meal. Whether you’re a seasoned home cook or just starting your culinary journey, mastering the art of cooking spinach can elevate your dishes and add a healthy twist to your meals.
Discover tips for cooking spinach that will help you make the most of this leafy green powerhouse:
Choosing the freshest spinach
The journey to a delicious spinach dish begins at the grocery store or farmers’ market. Look for spinach leaves that are bright green, crisp, and free from wilting or yellowing. Freshness is key to achieving the best flavour and texture.
Cleaning and prepping
Before you start cooking, it’s essential to properly clean and prep your spinach. “Remove the stems and discard damaged leaves and white parts of your spinach as they can be quite hard and an unpleasant eating experience,” advises recipe developer, Jezza-Rae Larsen. Fill a large bowl with cold water and immerse the spinach leaves. Gently agitate the leaves to dislodge any dirt or debris. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
“You may use a salad spinner or paper towel to remove excess moisture before using,” Jezza-Rae adds. Baby spinach just needs a simple quick rinse before using as their leaves are smaller and less rough.
Ways to cook spinach
Spinach is incredibly versatile and can be prepared using various methods, depending on your dish and personal preference:
Sautéing: Heat a skillet with a bit of olive oil or butter over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic or onions for extra flavour, then toss in the spinach leaves. Sauté for just a few minutes until wilted, and season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice for added zest.
Blanching: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. Immerse the spinach in the boiling water for about 30 seconds, then transfer it to the ice water to stop the cooking process. This method preserves the vibrant green colour and is ideal for salads or recipes where you want to maintain a fresh crunch.
Steaming: Steam spinach in a covered pot with a small amount of water for 2-3 minutes until wilted. This method retains nutrients while providing a tender texture.
Seasoning and flavouring
Spinach’s mild flavour makes it a perfect canvas for a variety of seasonings and flavourings. Experiment with garlic, shallots, nutmeg, lemon zest, or a dash of red pepper flakes to add depth and complexity to your dishes.
“To remove any bitterness from your spinach, try a dash of lemon juice juice while frying. You also want to avoid using the larger darker leaves, but if you don’t have a choice and can only use those, try masking the flavouring with another ingredient like bacon or peppers,” says Jezza-Rae.
“You can also dip the leaves in boiling water to blanch to help neutralise the flavour a bit. The smaller, younger leaves of spinach should be less bitter.”
Combining with other ingredients
Spinach pairs well with numerous ingredients, such as feta cheese, pine nuts, raisins, and bacon. Consider incorporating these elements to create exciting flavour combinations that will delight your taste buds.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating mouthwatering spinach dishes that are not only nutritious but also bursting with flavour. Whether you’re adding spinach to salads, pasta, or as a simple side dish, these cooking techniques will help you make the most of this leafy green superstar.
Try this Creamed spinach recipe
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 300g spinach, stems removed and chopped
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup cream or cream
1. Heat oil in a pan over medium. Cook onion until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant.
2. Add spinach and flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add cream and ½ cup water and cook for 4 minutes until spinach is thick and creamy. Season well.
Add a dash of mustard to help elevate the flavour. You can also use baby spinach for this recipe. This recipe can be enjoyed as a creamy dip with some chick peas and pita breads, or as a delicious side for your steak.
ALSO SEE: Tips for cooking cabbage
Feature image: Unsplash