I really had intended to post this yesterday, but I got my wires crossed and published the wrong article. Please pretend that today is yesterday and yesterday is today while you read this post.
Today, 17 June, is my most recent ex-boss’ birthday. I know she’s reading the blog (she does, after all, comment occasionally) and I know she’s been less than thrilled with the content of most of the food-related posts, so here’s a food post that she can read without a major “Eew” moment.
Spinach is something of a poster-child for under-appreciated vegetables. Yes, it’s got the association with Popeye going for it, but an informal and unreliable study I just conducted shows that only brussel sprouts get more citations as an “ick!” vegetable in popular culture. And spinach is still fighting people’s bad associations from the 2006 E. coli outbreak. It even gets put down by E Online in an article claiming that Alice Eve ate almost nothing but spinach for five months in preparation for her underwear-baring appearance in Star Trek Into Darkness. (Rumors that her recipe list included this “Stimulating Spinach Salad” are entirely non-existent.)
Today I’ll do my bit to redeem spinach with a selection of recipes that would be pointless without a touch of the green. And, in honor of You Know Who, they’re (almost) all vegetarian-safe. (Note that they are not all vegan-friendly, however. Many use butter and/or cheese.)
To kick things off, fire up your deep-fryer for (what else?) Deep Fried Spinach. Straight-forward, classic in its simplicity, and – unless you like the sensation of boiling peanut oil sliding down your throat – not worth the electrons the recipe is printed on without the spinach.
Allrecipes also has this recipe for a different take on fried spinach. It sacrifices the crispiness of the first recipe, but adds butter and garlic, so I’m willing to consider it a fair trade.
Giada De Laurentiis offers us a tasty-looking Penne with Spinach Sauce. Since it’s designed for whole wheat penne and uses low-fat cream cheese, it’s rather more heart-healthy than I expected. It also uses goat cheese to up the flavor. No indication if it can also be made with llama or camel cheese for additional variety.
Count on Paula Deen to come up with an offering that has one ingredient too many. At least this Spinach, Strawberry, and Hearts of Palm Salad goes overboard with the addition of walnuts instead of butter or heavy cream.
A rather simpler salad, this one featuring nectarines, is offered by Healthy Times Blog.
I’m firmly of the opinion that a spinach lasagne should be part of every cook’s recipe book. We use a recipe based on one distributed by the University of Texas, which does not seem to be available online. This one looks pretty decent, if a bit higher end than ours. That goat cheese is sneaking in again (persistent critters, those goats), and it does call for an egg, so non-ovo vegetarians should consider Martha Stewart’s take on the subject. Yes, Martha uses goat cheese too.
This one avoids the goat cheese – it uses Swiss instead – but it’s just too darn busy. By the time you get past the broccoli, carrots, green onions, and bell peppers, you may not even be able to taste the spinach.
If you think Martha did OK with the Spinach Lasagne, you might also want to take a look at her takes on Spinach Pie or “Spinach Bundles“, both built around spinach and feta cheese. If simplicity is your thing, you could do a lot worse than Martha’s “Sesame Steamed Spinach“.
Eating Healty wins today’s “I Wouldn’t Have Thought Of That” award for “Spinach Soup with Rosemary Croutons. They suggest that it could be done with chard instead of spinach. I suggest that making spinach soup without spinach is a lot like making garlic bread without the garlic, but who am I to judge?
Here’s today’s winner for “Most Misleading Name”: Spinach Brownies. Despite the implications of the name, they contain no chocolate at all. And – vegetarians take note – they do contain eggs.
If your ears perked up at the thought of chocolate and spinach together, allow me to suggest you investigate ISINGFORLIFE’s Chocolate Spinach Smoothies, Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Chocolate-Spinach Pancakes (although the latter doesn’t actually use whole spinach, but only a powdered supplement partially based on spinach), or Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious Brownies. Unfortunately, they all stress that they don’t taste like spinach, which seems to me to be sort of missing the point. Yeah, I know, I know: the idea is really to sneak something healthy into kids. So how about the Sneaky Chef’s Brawny Brownies? (As of this writing, the original site is down; the link goes to an archived version courtesy of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.) If you’re going to sneak spinach into them, you might as well dupe them into eating whole grains too.
If you really want a spinach dessert, you might be better off forgetting the chocolate and trying this vegan, no-freezer Avocado Spinach Ice Cream. Let me know how it turns out; while you’re trying it, I’ll be over on the other side of the store pricing deep-friers to make some of that crispy spinach…