How to Prepare Spinach
Spinach is a truly versatile leafy green in that you can prepare it many different ways. Depending on the dish you plan to cook, you will need either to remove the stem or retain it. Larger specimens will typically have tougher stems that will prove to be chewy and not too good to eat, thus the need to remove them.
You can remove the hard stem in spinach by either tearing it by hand or using a knife. Make sure to use a sharp knife or scissors so as not to damage the leaves. If removing by hand, get a firm grip on the leaf and stem, and then separate them in one decisive move.
Regardless of how you prepare spinach, you should wash the leaves thoroughly in order to remove debris and dirt. Fit the spinach you have in a bowl and pour in cold water until the leafy greens are submerged. Then, gently swish the spinach around the water to loosen the dirt and repeat the process as necessary.
Alternatively, you can put the spinach in a colander and pour cold water over the leaves for a few minutes. This gets rid of the bacteria and dirt that could be hiding in the leaf curls.
How to Blanch Spinach
Blanching is the process of boiling the spinach with water, then putting it in a cold or iced bath to stop the plant from cooking.
To blanch spinach, fill a pot with clean water and bring it to a boil. Add the spinach, stem-first, then the leaves and make sure they're submerged. Wait until the stems have gone somewhat soft, which should take less than a minute then turn the heat off and place the spinach in a bowl of iced or cold water.
Once it is relatively cool, you can squeeze excess water to prevent muddiness and the leafy vegetable turning soggy. Blanched spinach can be eaten as is with minimal seasoning or turned into a cream or something similar.
How to Sauté Spinach
Sautéing is also a quick cooking technique, but instead of water, you use fat and high heat. In terms of oil, you can use olive oil, cooking oil, butter or even a non-stick cooking spray. However, you will need to make sure that the pan is preheated on medium high temperature before you toss in your spinach.
The fat from the oil or butter will sear the spinach leaves and lend them flavor. During this time, you can add other ingredients such as onions, minced garlic or bell pepper to make the taste more complex.
For large amounts of spinach, it is recommended that you add it in batches. Stir the veggies in the pot until all of them have wilted, then add some more and wait until the same occurs. Sautéing is good for when you don't want added moisture or water, or when you're using spinach as part of a larger or multi-ingredient dish.
How to Steam Spinach
Steaming is the process of boiling water and exposing the spinach to the vapors. As opposed to blanching, you typically won't be putting the stems or leaves of the spinach into the pot. All you need to do is produce a moist and hot environment to turn your spinach into food that is ready to be consumed
This method of cooking is easy and takes just minutes. Afterwards, you will have cooked spinach that you can prepare in a number of ways. Add balsamic vinegar or lemon juice to lessen bitterness, or season with salt and pepper for a simple yet tasty side.
The good news is that there are dozens of spinach recipes you can try, and you will be sure to get the health benefits of the leafy green no matter the dish. What are you waiting for? Start cooking with spinach today.