A strong, but not bitter leafy vegetable that can either be used as a salad vegetable or cooked as a side dish.
Baby leaves are deliciously tender and succulent and can be eaten raw, while larger ones are better for cooking. Look for bright, squeaky, shiny leaves; avoid broken, wet or slimy ones.
Remove any large stems and rinse in plenty of cold water if necessary. Spinach needs very little, if any water to cook in as it releases its own natural juices when heated, so simply cook in the water that clings to it after it’s been rinsed and drained. Cover with a lid so that the leaves steam in their juice, or simply place the leaves in a colander and pour over a kettle of boiling water; it wilts in seconds. For a richer flavour, toss spinach leaves in butter. A large quantity of leaves reduces to a very small amount when cooked, and a grating of fresh nutmeg compliments spinach very well.
If adding spinach to pies or sauces, squeeze out as much excess water as possible by pressing it down quite firmly in a sieve and then patting with kitchen paper. Creamed spinach is delicious served with grilled meats or fish: cook chopped, wilted spinach in a knob of butter and add double cream or crème fraiche. Spinach and ricotta is a classic combination in Italian and Greek recipes, and it makes a beautiful verdant green soup. Baby spinach leaves are great served as a salad, tumbled with crumbled blue cheese, bacon and croutons. For a great canapè try making spinach and filo tarts.
Keep spinach in the salad drawer of the fridge for just 1-2 days.