That’s a head of spinach in the photo. Fresh off the delivery truck. Like any greens that you “buy” this head is perfectly edible but truthfully is showing signs of its last few days: tossed into a crate, refrigerated, trucked a few hundred miles, …
What to do with spinach? Fresh from the garden, it’s great for a salad, perhaps with that hot bacon dressing most of us love. With a head like this, some cooking is in order to extract flavor by refreshing the molecules. That’s figuratively, not literally. This head has been plucked and “freshness” is something that is gone. The trick is to capture the remaining flavor.
From Emeril Lagasse comes one of his prototype recipes: spinach cooked in butter with spice and onions and cream. Emeril knows that fats are the conveyor belt for taste. Fats provide flavor themselves and extend the flavor of the foods they are in. You don’t want a pure red steak, because pure red meat lacks flavor. It’s the fat that has the flavor.
Now, natural spinach has almost no fat. It’s praised as a healthy food, rich in vitamins A and C and K, magnesium, manganese, folate, and iron. Just a small serving can provide an enormous amount of the daily percentage of these nutrients. So, Emeril rides that “healthy” foundation by adding just enough butter and cream to transfer the spinach from bitter to yummy. Here, 2 pounds of spinach provides enough servings for 10 people. You won’t be overdosing on the dairy fat, but you will be getting a heavy dose of nutrients you do need. And, it tastes marvelous.
Looking for a creative way to serve creamed spinach instead of just placed on the side? Bake a large potato, and serve it stuffed with the creamed spinach.
As a side note on its history and usage, spinach originated in Persia, and was carried by traders first to India and then China. It took until the 9th century for spinach to appear in Sicily, introduced by the Saracens. Today spinach is grown and enjoyed worldwide. The United States is the world's second largest producer. And the largest? China, of course. They grow over 40 times as much spinach as we do. At your next tour of a Chinese restaurant, look closely at what is in your soup, spring roll, fried rice, and just about every other dish. And you can order what they love:stir fried in oil with some garlic. Not quite the same as Emeril with his butter and cream.
Yield: 10 servings
- 2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and tough stems removed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup finely chopped shallots
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup heavy cream
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Drain in a fine mesh strainer, pressing with a large spoon to release as much water as possible. Or squeeze small portions by hand. Finely chop and set aside.
Melt the butter in medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, just until the liquid is released. Add the cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and cook until the cream is reduce by half, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.
Source: Emeril Lagasse and the Foodnetwork.com with some facts from Wikipedia
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for1/6th second at ISO‑3200
Yes, that was Suzen earlier today on SiriusXM Channel 110. That’s the Martha Stewart Living channel. The 3PM cooking slot was being hosted by our good friend Michele Scicolone. Michele is famous for her extraordinary array of cookbooks. Mostly Italian, it’s true, but The French Slow Cooker is a best seller and a “best eater” too.
Suzen was on the show today to answer questions about home cooking parties. How do you plan for a party, what to serve, how many people can you have, what to drink, … Michele and the listeners who called in had lots of questions. For the topic of what to serve, Suzen presented this recipe, a favorite for the bridal shower and bachelorette events she has weekly at Cooking by the Book.
Already since the show today we’ve had calls to put the recipe on this blog, and we are happy to post it now. Suzen loves this salad with its mixture of sweet and sour and that adornment of roasted strawberries. Be sure to cool those strawberries before placing on the spinach — the idea here is not to have wilted spinach.
Baby Spinach Salad with Roasted Strawberries
Yield: Serves 8
- 2 pints large strawberries
- 2 pints large strawberries
- 1tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh or frozen orange concentrate
- 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
- ¾ cup slivered or sliced almonds
- 9 cups baby spinach
- 5 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, shaved
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Using a paring knife, hull the strawberries and cut then in half lengthwise. Spread the berries on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar, ¼ teaspoon of the salt and several grinds of pepper. Toss to coat the berries evenly, then spread them out again. Roast until softened, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, gently sprinkle with the chopped tarragon
In a small nonreactive bowl, whisk together the vinegar, orange juice, the 1 tablespoon sugar, ¾ teaspoon of the salt and several grinds of pepper until the sugar dissolves. Slowly whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil until well blended to make vinaigrette. Taste and adjust the seasonings
In a small bowl, stir together the almonds and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Whisk the vinaigrette to recombine, drizzle about 1/3, less or more, over the spinach and toss well (reserving any remaining for another use). Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Divide the dressed spinach evenly among individual plates, top each serving with an equal amount of the roasted strawberries, sprinkle with the almonds and cheese. Serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from New Flavor for Salads by Dana Cheney