How To Cook Spinach
Several Ways On How To Cook Spinach
Once upon a time the instructions for how to cook spinach went something like this. Put some water in a pot, and place the pot on the stove. Add spinach to the water, and bring to a boil. Let the spinach boil for awhile, then serve. What you ended up with was boiled spinach, probably lacking in most of its original nutrients, but with a little salt, pepper, and butter, nevertheless tasted very good.
Popeye of course seldom was concerned about how to cook spinach; he ate it right from the can. At least I don't remember him every sitting down to a spinach salad. Popeye taught us that spinach would make us strong, and he wasn't far off the mark. A leafy green vegetable, packed with nutrients, spinach is rich in beta-carotene, iron, calcium, and folic acid, as well as a source of fiber and vitamin K. All sorts of benefits from eating spinach have been put forth, and most of these are probably true. We know then that spinach is good for us, so the question is, how to prepare it to retain its taste without compromising on its nutritional value.
Blanch It - Knowing how to cook spinach without causing it to loose its nutritional value isn't really difficult. One method is to blanch it; the other is to steam it. Either way, wash the leaves first, and cut off the stems. They add neither to the taste nor to the nutritional value. To blanch spinach, you simply drop the leaves in boiling water, then remove them after about 1 minute. That way the spinach will be slightly cooked and remain slightly crispy. It won't look like the soggy mess it tends to resemble after you've boiled the daylights out of it.
One small problem with the above method is that after you've removed the spinach from the boiling water it will continue to cook as long as it is hot. There's nothing really wrong with that, but many believe it tastes better when not cooked quite so much. Cooked spinach which still tastes fresh is in a way, having the best of both worlds. If you like cooked, fresh spinach, you can simply blanch it, and when removing it from the boiling water, immerse it a few seconds in ice water. This will stop the cooking process. The question then is, how warm or how cold do you want to serve the spinach. The answer is, it depends upon what you are serving it with.
Steam It - If you want to serve the spinach while it is quite warm, one answer to how to cook spinach is to steam it. This is really not difficult at all, especially if you have a vegetable steamer. You can control the amount of cooking, the crispness, and the freshness fairly easily. It may take a couple of trial runs to get it down just right. Otherwise, a recipe for steamed spinach will generally give an indication of the time required. About 2 minutes for a pound of spinach is usually about right, but it all depends upon your particular taste. When the leaves are wilted, but still a bright green, they have been cooked about right. Steamed spinach goes particularly well with most meat and chicken dishes.
Want (Spinach) Fries With That? - Frying it would seem not to be the best example of how to cook spinach, yet there is more to this method perhaps than meets the eye. It has been claimed that frying spinach, in vegetable oil, and frying it to a crisp, makes a very tasty appetizer when served with an appropriate dip, even a dip as simple as mayonnaise. The claimant does acknowledge that in preparing spinach this way you will cook all the nutrients out of it, but you are preparing an appetizer, and the purpose of an appetizer is to whet the appetite, not deliver loads of nutrition.
Better Yet With Garlic - Another method of frying spinach seems a little more appealing. Place some vegetable oil, or better yet, sunflower oil in a pan and bring it to medium heat. Add fresh chopped garlic, and stir fry it for a few minutes. Then add your fresh spinach leaves, and continue to stir fry slowly for a few minutes more before serving. Another recipe adds ginger to the spinach-garlic mix.
Of course you don't have to cook it at all. Spinach is an excellent base for a salad, better than lettuce some will argue. If you do choose to cook it, try adding chopped spinach to an omelet, or serve as part of a ravioli dish. Popeye will be proud.