Thursday, April 19, 2012

Popeye, The Sailor Man

I bet you can guess what this post is about!  Spinach!

No. Actually it’s about having disproportionately large calves.

Just kidding. I have those, but you were right the first time. It’s about spinach.

Raise your hand if you’re tired of spinach. Personally, I feel like I eat it all the time. In omelets at brunch, in salads at lunch, as a side at dinner, on pizza, etc. And I really, really can’t stand that minerally, nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling I get on my teeth from eating cooked spinach.


But spinach is something that my stomach doesn’t get bent out of shape about, and also, I just got a bunch of it (two bunches, to be precise) in the farm box.

Much like I am tired of cooking bok choy with the same flavorings over and over, I’m not sure I can do sautéed spinach with garlic and olive oil any longer. I’m done. After 30ish years of eating spinach prepared that way, it’s time for something new. Surely there’s another way to cook spinach. A way that's not creamed.

Thanks to last year’s 2011 “Learn to Cook Some Indian Food” foray, I pulled Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking at Home off the shelf and looked up “spinach”.  And there it was. Several of the usual ingredients – garlic, olive oil – but also some new ones – cumin seeds, cayenne.


Figuring I had nothing to lose, I whipped it up. It honestly couldn’t have been easier. This is not a dish you need “cooking skills” to make. All you really need are tongs.

You have tongs, right? If you don't, go get yourself some, they are the most indispensable kitchen tool I own. Seriously.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. I used a combo of olive oil and grapeseed oil, and my 12” pan.

When the oil gets hot, add a teaspoon of cumin seeds.

When those little guys start dancing in the pan, add three cloves of garlic that have been, essentially, julienned (cut into thin strips lengthwise).

When the garlic starts to become golden, add the spinach (washed, stemmed, still damp, and coarsely chopped if not the baby variety).

Use tongs to toss/distribute the oil/garlic/cumin and then put a lid on it.

Let it steam/sauté for about 4 minutes or so? I don’t know. Check it.  Toss it with the tongs occasionally. You know what cooked spinach looks like.

When it looks done, add half a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of cayenne. Turn off the heat and toss with the tongs to incorporate.

It’s wild how different this tastes than your typical spinach. I actually stuffed some into a quesadilla I made with Monterey jack cheese (and a spelt tortilla, THANK YOU RUDI’S ORGANIC BAKERY) which was amazing, like some kind of Indian-ish burrito.

Try this sometime. It’s eye-opening, in a good way.

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