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Ideas with spinach

First made famous by Popeye, spinach has long enjoyed its reputation as the vegetable of superheroes. But gone are the days of that overcooked, slimy mess from last century: spinach is delicious when fresh, with its peppery and aromatic qualities best displayed. It can also be lightly steamed, sweated in a pan with a knob of butter and crushed garlic, or tossed into a warm dish to wilt.

Not to be confused with the more frilly and shiny-leafed Swiss chard (which is in the same group and subfamily as beetroot), spinach has smooth leaves and tender stems, which can – and should – be savoured too.

This tremendously nutritious veggie is loaded with antioxidants, as well as vitamin A, C, E and K, magnesium, manganese, folate, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Like most of its green and leafy cousins, spinach is most prized as a rich source of iron.

Quick ideas
• For a quick delicious side dish, cook polenta (as per the pack instructions) until it’s softened and smooth. Stir in a few tablespoons of mascarpone cheese and a handful of spinach leaves. Let the spinach wilt a little, then stir again and serve.
• Baby spinach leaves make excellent salads. One of our favourite combinations is with watercress, chopped spring or red onions, and avo, drizzled with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice.
• Turn your chicken curry into a vegetarian one by replacing the meat with spinach and butternut.
• Give your dhal an extra nutritious kick by stirring in spinach at the end of the cooking process. Cook for a minute or two until the spinach is wilted.
• For a tasty breakfast salad, top a bowl of spinach leaves with crispy bacon and a poached egg. Drizzle with a dressing of white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, garlic and a little salt and pepper.

Recipes
Spinach gnudi with tomato butter sauce
Orange poached beetroot with goat’s cheese and spinach
Ginger, prawn and spinach rich paper rolls
Lamb and spinach fettuccine

By Linda Scarborough and Anelde Greeff
Photo: Stockbyte

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