Saturday, March 26, 2011


Get your inner Popeye going (and I don't mean the fried chicken shop, silly), its :

National Spinach Day!!

Dear old Popeye knew that eating your spinach is good for you and gives you the strength to seduce scrawny women with annoying voices. But what Popeye didn't know was all of this :

"Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. It is a rich source of vitamin A (and especially high in lutein), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids."
Via : Wikipedia

Spinach can be made in so many different ways that it never becomes boring. My Greek favorite Spanakopita, luscious phyllo puffs stuffed with spinach and feta, Ika-ten Udon, a Japanese noodle soup with spinach, scallions, and tempura squid, or the classic American Stuffed Shells, large shelled pasta stuffed with spinach and ricotta.

All sounds good, doesn't it?

Personally, my favorite is below. I grew up with this and it will always be a crowd pleaser.

Sautéed Spinach.

Sautéed Spinach

As boring as it sounds, this frighteningly simple dish requires attention and finesse. It’s really all about technique. Do not be fooled, the flavour and texture of this are sublime.

A Large Heavy Bottomed Sauté Pan, 10” (25 cm)
Everyone should have one. Cast iron works fantastically (remember Gran’ma and her pancakes?? Hopefully, you inherited that pan).

Heavy Tongs, 12” (30 cm)

A Wooden Spoon
Tried and true.

A Coffee Mug
You know which one I mean.

A Table Spoon

Three (3) bags of Fresh Baby Spinach
These days, fresh spinach is readily available, pre-washed, in bags, at the supermarket. This is a huge time saver and the quality is great. There is no need to rinse it, simply tear open the bag and use.

However, if you are fortunate enough to have a greenmarket nearby, please hunt up the locally grown spinach and pick up about five (5) lbs. (2.2 kg.) of the stuff. Yes, I know, it seems like a lot, but it will cook down dramatically. The local stuff will be very sandy and will need to be thoroughly cleaned. So, fill the kitchen sink with cold water and soak the locally grown spinach for about ten (10) minutes and let the sand fall to the bottom of the sink. Pull the spinach out and drain the sink. Clean and refill the sink with fresh cold water and soak the spinach again. It may take a few soakings to remove all of the grit. Simply taste one of the leaves to check for sand. Honestly, it wont hurt you. Most organic locally grown spinach comes with the roots attached, which gives it added flavour and shelf life. After all of the bunches of spinach are fully cleaned, simply chop off the roots and the tough stems with a kitchen knife and you’re ready to go.

Now, Frozen Spinach is a great option as well. Simply thaw and break up the block of Frozen Spinach into pieces and turn it out into a bowl in preparation for the sauté. See the Variations section below for specific instructions. Don’t want to overcook ‘em now, do we?

Four (4) Cloves of Garlic
Who doesn't like garlic???

Olive Oyl
Xtra Virgin, like your sister.

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Some Veal or Chicken Broth (OPTIONAL)

Music to Sauté By

Turn on the music and take a deep breath. Slowly let it out, this will be fun.

Mince the four (4) cloves of Garlic and place them into the Coffee Mug. Add one quarter (1/4) cup of Olive Oyl, or just enough to cover the Garlic.

Now, all of the next steps occur very quickly, so make sure that all of the children are safely locked up underneath the stairs so there are no interruptions, muzzles work too.

Heat the Large Skillet over medium high heat until sizzling, about three (3) minutes.

Add one (1) tablespoon of the Garlic and Olive Oyl mixture and sauté for ten (10) seconds before adding a ginormous handful of the Spinach.

Quickly add a pinch of Kosher Salt and a grind of Black Pepper.

Now, this is optional. I like throwing a tablespoon of Veal or Chicken stock into the pan at this time for an added depth of flavour. Your vegan friends will wonder why the spinach tastes so good. Don’t tell them what you used, trade secret. Honestly, it’s not necessary, though

Otherwise, add about one (1) tablespoon of water.

Using the Heavy Tongs, rotate the spinach in the pan constantly until it just collapses and wilts, about a minute to a minute and a half.

Turn out into a serving bowl using the Wooden Spoon.

Repeat all of the steps (Garlic mixture, Spinach, Salt, Pepper, splash of Broth or Water) with the remaining bags of Spinach until through.

Cover the bowl with a dinner plate and set aside on the counter, cling film begone. The Spinach will continue to steam in the covered bowl and create it’s own yummy sauce.

Let the Spinach cool to room temperature. You can either eat it later in the day or place it in the fridge for tomorrow.

Now, you can release the children from lockup and have them wash the pan and the stove top. Hey, child labour is useful after all.

The Spinach will keep in the fridge for about a week and can be paired and used with a bazillion things beyond a simple side dish. Cous Cous, Pastina, Orzo, 'Taters, Turnips, Parsnips, Carrots, Omeletes, Beets, Meats, Chix, Fish, should I keep going??


Serves Four (4)


One of my favorite variations is using Bacon Fat in lieu of Olive Oyl. Yes, low cal it’s not, but crazy flavour. Now, I like Apple Wood Smoked Slab Bacon, but your personal favorite kind is what to use.

Sauté four (4) or five (5) slices of bacon on medium high heat in the Sauté Pan until your desired crispiness and the fat has rendered out of the bacon and into the pan. Remove the bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel to drain. Pour all of the bacon fat into the Coffee Mug. Mince the garlic and leave it on the cutting board. Return the skillet with the bacon drippings, i.e. the crusty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, to the burner. Add one (1) teaspoon of the minced garlic from the cutting board to the hot pan. Saute for ten (10) seconds and add a big wad of spinach and one (1) tablespoon of water. Using the Heavy Tongs rotate the spinach until it just collapses and wilts, about a minute. Remove the spinach to a serving bowl. Repeat, in batches, with the remaining bunches of spinach adding a tablespoon of the bacon fat and a teaspoon of the raw minced garlic from the cutting board before adding the spinach, no water needed. Continue sautéing until done with all of the spinach. Give the finished product a grind of Black Pepper and a toss with the Heavy Tongs. Cover the bowl with a dinner plate and let cool. There’s no need to add any salt, the bacony bacons are salty enough.

To serve, simply grab a big tong full of spinach and place in a mound on one side of a dinner plate. Place one (1) of the slabs of crispity bacon on top; a nice side dish.

Now, if you are using Frozen Spinach for all of this, reduce the heat to medium low. Begin with the Garlic and Olive Oyl mixture and it let just warm through enough to infuse the Oyl with garlicky happiness, about a minute and a half to two (2) minutes. The garlic should barely become translucent. Add the thawed frozen spinach and turn to coat with the garlic infused Oyl using the Heavy Tongs. Sauté for about two (2) to three (3) minutes until just warmed through. Add a grind of black pepper and serve immediately.

For a Bacon Fat variation with Frozen Spinach, pour out half of the bacon fat, so that you have about two tablespoons left in the pan, and drop the heat to low, there will be more than enough residual heat to compensate. Add the garlic, and stir for ten (10) seconds. After ten (10) seconds, add the broken up blocks of thawed Frozen Spinach, a grind of black pepper, and give everything a stir until all is warmed through and just slightly crispy, about five (5) minutes. For service, place a nice mound of the greens onto a dinner plate with a crispy strip of bacon on top and serve with some roasty meats.

There you go.

 Recipe ©2011 Wait At The Bar

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