Spinach is easy to grow, is a good source of vitamins and minerals and has an earthy bitter flavour that works well in a wide variety of dishes. For these reasons spinach is well-loved all over the world.
Cooking spinach is easy and can be done in minutes but it’s worth noting that the leaves contain a lot of water, which is released rapidly when heated. This causes the volume to decrease dramatically so a large panful of spinach can quickly reduce to a handful once cooked. The water that is released must be properly drained or the leaves will be soggy and unpleasant.
Young spinach leaves, or baby spinach as it’s often called, can be served raw in smoothies or salads, matching well with sharp or citrus-based dressings and ingredients.
As well as the fresh leaves, you can also buy spinach frozen, usually finely chopped and frozen into small blocks. These can be added to smoothies, or to stews, soups, curries and sauces straight from the freezer. If cooking, heat until defrosted and piping hot through.
How to prepare and cook spinach
Baby spinach leaves need no more than a quick rinse before use. The older leaves might need a more thorough wash in cold water and you may also want to trim or tear off any woodier stems.
Blanched spinach – serves 2
- 400g-450g spinach or 250-300g baby spinach
- butter or olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Half-fill a large pan with water and bring it to the boil. Tip the prepared spinach into the boiling water. It will start to wilt down quite quickly, once it has wilted (about 1-2 mins) drain it through a colander and allow all the excess water to run out, pressing it with the back of a spoon or underside of a ladle will help force excess water out of the spinach through the colander.
- Put the cooked spinach in a serving dish and add butter or olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. A little grating of nutmeg also works well with spinach.
- If you want to serve the spinach cold (or you want to heat it through later in another recipe) plunge it into a bowl of iced water immediately after it has been wilted. This will preserve it’s vibrant colour and cool it down rapidly. Carefully drain once cooled and pat the spinach dry with kitchen roll.
Wilted – serves 1-2
- 250-300g bag baby spinach
This is a really quick and easy method.
- Simply fill a colander with your washed baby spinach and set it over the sink. Boil a full kettle.
- As soon as the water has boiled carefully pour the contents of the kettle over the spinach so the water wilts the leaves then runs through the colander down the drain.
- Force the excess water away from the spinach by pressing it down in the colander with the back of a spoon or ladle then season and serve or use in your chosen recipe.
Get some recipe inspiration:
Spiced chicken, spinach & sweet potato stew
A healthy one-pot with warming spices.
Spinach & halloumi salad
Try this tasty spinach and halloumi salad as a light main or starter. It contains just four ingredients so is simple and speedy to make.
An Indian dish with plenty of flavour, saag paneer is a well-loved vegetarian side.
Lean green smoothie
Use either a handful of fresh spinach in this recipe or 3 blocks of frozen chopped spinach.
Spinach & artichoke filo pie
This makes a good main course for vegetarian friends and family.
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