Spinach is one of our favorite veggies to use. It seems like we are not alone. Spinach is used in almost every cuisine around the world. We add it to smoothies, eggs, salads, sandwiches, sauces, casseroles, and so on. It’s readily available all year. You can buy it fresh or frozen. We typically purchase fresh organic baby spinach to use, unless we are making a dip or casserole. When cooking it from it’s fresh state, it reduces very dramatically.
HOW AND WHEN TO PURCHASE – Think of what you need it for. For a smoothie, salad, sandwich, etc. you want fresh. If using it in lasagna you’ll want to use frozen (thawed and water squeezed out). Spinach is available all year round, but it best to purchase fresh between April and September. Go for spinach with medium to dark green leaves and a fresh odor. If I need frozen spinach, I always by chopped and bagged instead of a block. This way you can use the amount you want to and there’s no waste.
HOW TO STORE IT – Do not rinse your spinach prior to storing it. This will cause it go bad faster. Simply place spinach leaves loosely in a container or Ziploc bag and put in the fridge. It should stay fresh for 4-7 days.
HOW TO PREP IT – Rinse leaves, shake of excess water, pat dry with paper towel.
HOW TO USE/COOK IT – Use fresh or frozen. It really depends on the recipe and what you want to make. Always opt to sauté or steam fresh spinach, avoid boiling it as it can make it have a metallic taste. I steam frozen spinach unless I only need to thaw to add to a recipe. Make sure to squeeze our the extra water.
WHY IT’S GOOD FOOD – Spinach is full of nutrients! According to Self Nutrition Data, spinach is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Niacin and Zinc, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Foliate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. Source: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2626/2
Now for the fun part – the recipes! These are two of our favorite spinach recipes. The pesto we make every few weeks. The smoothies are made several times a weeks.
SPINACH BASIL PESTO (Nut Free)
4 cups spinach
2 cups basil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
Place the spinach, basil, garlic, garlic, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender. Turn on the machine and blend for 30 seconds. Slowly stream in the olive oil while the machine is running. Process until smooth.
Serve with pasta, veggies, chicken, fish, as a spread, etc. Store the pesto in a jar or container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. This pesto also freezes well. Enjoy!
Note: If you like a thinner pesto you can add a little more olive oil.
Freezing Note: Omit cheese until ready to use. Freeze in ice cube tray for easy use.
1 cup of fresh baby spinach
1/2 to 1 small apple, cubed, peel on
1 banana, preferably frozen
1/2 cup of water or apple juice
1 teaspoon of ground flax seed, chia seed, goji powder, etc., optional
4-5 ice cubes
Blend until smooth.
NOTE – I like to use my NutriBullet to make these. It makes the smoothie a smoother consistency than my blender does.