Tuesday 25 June 2019

Spinach straight from the garden

Our garden at 11 pm; we're the same latitude as the capital of Alaska. Happy Midsommer!

I don’t know about your garden, but ours is a victim of the vacillating weather; most of our leafy vegetables have bolted, and I have to quickly gather up our spinach and cook it quickly before it all goes bitter. Thankfully, I have a lot of spinach recipes I wanted to try.

Spinach is one of the fastest-growing leafy vegetables and one of the most nutritious, a great source of Vitamins A, C and K1, as well as Folic acid. It’s also packed with anti-oxidants, which might help reduce the risk of cancer. There’s a reason that the cartoon character Popeye ate spinach to basically gain super-powers before his fights.

The one nutrient spinach is most famous for – iron – is, sadly a bit of an urban myth; it has some, but not significantly more than most vegetables. In the early days of chemically analysing vegetables, when our understanding of vitamins and minerals was still forming, scientists mis-judged the amount of iron in spinach; scientist Ole Redkal goes through the entire history of the urban legend in his surprisingly funny paper “Academic Urban Legends.”

Spinach eggs
100g leeks
100g celery
Four cloves of garlic
300g spinach
Four eggs
Spices: nutmeg, pepper

Heat a pat of butter in a large saucepan, adding a bit of olive oil so the butter doesn’t burn. Then sautee the leeks and celery for about ten minutes, add the grated garlic, and continue for two more minutes. Finally, take the washed and finely chopped spinach, pile it up on the saucepan, cover with a lid and cook for another few minutes until the spinach has cooked down.

Take the spinach mix and pile it into a large bowl, leaving a hollow in the middle. Crack open four eggs and pour them into the hollow, so that they are surrounded by cooked vegetables on all sides. Grate some cheese on top – Parmesan would work well.

Set the bowl in the oven for 200 degrees C for about ten minutes or until the eggs are cooked through. Alternately, you can put the bowl in the microwave on high for about three minutes, but be sure to put a plate on top to keep it from exploding.

Zesty spinach soup
Sautee vegetables as in the above recipe, up to the point of cooking the spinach. Meanwhile, heat 500 ml of vegetable stock in a pot, and bring to a boil.
Gently scoop the vegetables from the pan into the pot, and turn off the heat. Get a blitzer and puree the vegetables.
Zest one lemon and mix the zest into the soup, and squeeze out the juice into the soup. When the soup has cooled to blood temperature, mix in 300g of plain yogurt.

Spinach/herb salad
200g spinach
20g sorrel
20g chives
100g carrots
20 ml soy sauce
10 ml sesame oil
50g Plain natural yogurt
Pinch of cumin, coriander, and cayenne to taste.

Wash and chop the spinach finely. Peel and grate the carrots. Wash and chop the sorrel and chives.
Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil and yogurt in a bowl, adding spices to taste; I find a slightly spicy mix of cumin, coriander and cayenne works well, but you might have your own taste. Mix in the herbs, then the carrots, and finally the spinach. The sorrel adds a lemony tang to the salad, and the soy sauce adds a salty, meaty element to the taste as well.

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