One of the earliest “green leafy” vegetables to arrive in Northeast Ohio is spinach. Spinach is a very dark green leaf that adds both color and nutrition to many of your favorite dishes.
Spinach is very versatile and can be cooked into dips, eggs, soups and casseroles of all kinds. You can add it as a flavor enhancer, almost like an herb, to any soup or as a primary component where it adds both structure and volume, as in a spinach quiche. Of course, you can use it in salads as well, either as the sole “leaf” or combined with others like any of the many varieties of lettuce.
Spinach is a terrific source of vitamin K with one cup providing an amazing 1110% daily vitamins (DV)! It is also a good source of vitamin A with that same cup yielding almost 300%DV! Other significant nutrients include manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and B2. Spinach has so much folate, it was the source from with the first commercial supplement was extracted.
Spinach is often cited as a good source of both iron and calcium but compounds in spinach actually reduce the bioavailability of these minerals making spinach a better source on paper for these nutrients than it truly is.
Like most vegetables, the terrific nutrition found in spinach is very short lived lasting only days after being picked (note - freezing can extend this time to as much as 8 months).
Two of my favorite uses for spinach are quiche and smoothies.
Crustless quiche - whisk 6 eggs, add 2 cups of fresh spinach, one cup grated parmesan cheese and season to taste (I’ll add salt, pepper, basil and oregano). Bake in a greased deep dish pan until set (about 45 minutes at 350). Garnish with a sprig of fresh parsley.
Smoothies - I often blend fresh frozen spinach with fresh frozen strawberries, a banana, a kiwi and a cup of filtered water for a nutritious and refreshing summer treat.
Take advantage of the higher nutrition and better flavor of locally grown spinach as it come into season. You’ll be amazed at the huge number of things it can be added to.