I love Spinach. My nickname used to be popeye in college, because like that sailor, I can have spinach five days a week, in any one of a myriad dishes. I did a little bit of research on spinach for Weekend Herb Blogging, which was started by Kalyn, and is being hosted by Prof Kitty this week. It turns out Spinach belongs to the amaranth family, and is indigenous to India/ Nepal. It comes highly recommended for inclusion in a healthy diet because of its iron and folic acid content, not to mention tons of vitamins and essential minerals and is especially recommended during pregnancy when women need more folic acid. It also adds to one's fibre intake and is low cal. Health benefits include prevention of osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, and other diseases. And it's supposed to help the digestion and improve brain power. What more could one want?
India abounds in spinach recipes, from a simple palak paneer – mashed spinach gravy with roast cottage cheese – to an inclusion in Huli which is one of my favourite lentil dishes, palak pakodas - in which spinach leaves are dipped in a batter made of chickpea flour and deepfried crisp, to raita –steamed, ribboned spinach in a yoghurt sauce. One of my favourite recipes, though, is for Baby Spinach salad. In India, baby spinach is low on availability since Indian dishes call for fully ripe spinach, so usually I'm reduced to buying two large bunches of spinach and pawing through them to find the small leaves to make this salad. However, recently I planted some spinach in a pot in my backyard ( which now qualifies this post for GYO too - yippee!) and last week we could harvest two handfuls of baby spinach – just right for my favourite salad. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce, and watch even kids enjoy this green goody.
Ingredients: (for 4 people)
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves, well washed and dried
½ cup plump garlic cloves with skin on
½ tbsp olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon ( or to taste)
Salt to taste
½ cup roast pine nuts
Pepper if you really want
Chop off the last 1 cm or so of spinach stem and put the leaves in a bowl or a flat dish. Heat the olive oil (not extra virgin, by the way, as that doesn't take well to heating) and pop in the garlic cloves. Take off the heat once the garlic cloves are lightly browned on both sides and pour the oil and garlic over the spinach leaves. Add the lemon juice, salt and pine nuts. If you want, add some freshly ground pepper and serve immediately. Let the family – or guests – enjoy squeezing the garlic skin to burst the sweet pods out and combine with the salad. Pair with a bean soup for a wonderful summer meal!