Spinach (Spinacia oleracea), a member of the amaranth family grown for its deep green leaves, is rich is iron, calcium, antioxidants, vitamins K and A and many more vitamins and minerals. It is thought to have originated in Persia (Iran) and traveled over time, appearing in many traditional dishes among different cultures. Spinach plants prefer cool weather and grow best in spring and fall months.

Wash spinach thoroughly as it grows close to the ground and collects soil among its leaves. To clean, soak spinach leaves in a bowl of cool water for a bit, swish it around, and then rinse, repeating two or three times. If you are going to use it raw in salads, try drying it in a salad spinner or colander. To cook, trim thick stems first. Quickly boiling it makes it sweeter by reducing the oxalic acid found in spinach. Or, try sauteeing it in olive oil with garlic, adding lemon juice and parmesan cheese if desired. Spinach can also be baked on pizza, added to omelets or quiche, soups, stews, pasta dishes, or eaten fresh in salads. It's a super versatile, nutritious and yummy food, once you are able to shed the childhood memories of eating that dark, slimy stuff from the can. Store spinach unwashed in a loose plastic bag in the fridge, for up to a week.

Less-Than-a-Minute Spinach
1 lb. fresh spinach leaves, washed thoroughly
1 TBS olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste, parmesan cheese optional
First bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then add spinach. Cook for one minute or less, drain, squeeze out extra moisture and toss with remaining ingredients.

Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot or onion, chopped
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook shallot 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach; cook 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Lightly whisk eggs in a bowl. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, basil, spinach mixture, salt and pepper. Pour into baking dish; bake until firm in the center, around 20ish minutes.

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