Spinach might not make you grow biceps on the spot, but its nutritional makeup — it’s chock-full of potassium, iron, magnesium, beta-carotene and vitamin K — does the body serious good. it’s also available year-round and cooks in seconds. Here’s a leaf-to-stem primer.
Good to know
▪ Spinach gets its rich color from chlorophyll, which makes for strong muscles and bones — and may even help your vision.
▪ When you buy a bunch, don’t toss the crowns — the purple ends are delicious! Cut them from the leaves, blanch them for 1 to 2 minutes in salted boiling water and shock them in an ice bath. Dress with lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt for a fresh side.
▪ To clean spinach, plunge leaves into a large bowl of cool water and swish them around with your hands until no grit remains. Spin dry, then wrap in a clean dishcloth or paper towels until you’re ready to use them.
What’s your type?
Mild in flavor and slightly sweeter than its curly counterpart, it’s ideal in salads, or lightly steamed and sprinkled with sesame seeds
Small and tender, it’s the same variety as flat leaf, just picked earlier. Use it in smoothies and scrambled eggs, or toss it with other greens, like romaine or arugula.
This spinach is hearty in texture and assertive in flavor, so it stands up to strong dressings (like a soy vinaigrette — see accompanying recipe) and holds its own with roasted meats.
Leaf through these
Unlike many vegetables, spinach releases its antioxidants when cooked, whether it’s stirred into a simmering broth or wilted in the pan or oven. Even raw, it can add a big dose of minerals to a smoothie.
A cold fact
Spinach has a relatively short shelf life in the fridge. To make it last longer, put an entire bag or container in the freezer. The leaves won’t clump together, so you can take out a handful at a time to cook with or blend into a juice or smoothie.
Lemony quinoa-and-spinach soup
- 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 sprig fresh dill, plus 1/4 cup chopped dill
- 3-inch piece of lemon peel
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic, grated
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
- 5 cups packed baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1. In a small pot, bring chicken broth, sprig of dill, lemon peel and garlic to a boil. Season with kosher salt. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.
2. Uncover; remove dill sprig and lemon peel. Increase heat to medium-high and add quinoa; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Remove from heat. Stir in baby spinach, chopped dill and lemon juice. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, season with pepper and serve.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 180 calories, 10 grams fat, 20 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, no cholesterol, 115 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 32 percent of calories from fat.
Warm spinach salad with soy vinaigrette
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 2 cups shiitake-mushroom caps, sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 6 cups packed curly-leaf spinach
- 1 1/2 cups carrot ribbons (from 2 peeled carrots)
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, mustard, honey and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss cremini mushrooms and shiitake-mushroom caps with 2 tablespoons dressing. Roast, stirring once, until browned, about 15 minutes.
3. Remove from oven; add spinach, carrot ribbons and remaining dressing directly to hot baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, toss to coat and serve.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 137 calories, 11 grams fat, 10 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, no cholesterol, 219 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 65 percent of calories from fat.
Tropical green juice
- 2 cups frozen pineapple chunks (9 ounces)
- 1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup packed baby spinach
Combine pineapple chunks, mint, baby spinach and 2 cups cold water in a blender. Blend until smooth; serve, over ice.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 108 calories, trace fat, 28 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 10 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 1 percent of calories from fat.