Fri, 21 September, 2018
Frozen spinach is all right but for this marvelous dish of simple buttered spinach only bright fresh leaves will do.
It's my favourite spinach dish
My favourite way of preparing spinach is the simplest: wilted, buttered and then buttered again. It must be fresh, picked off stems, young and tender leaves only. It’s so, so good I can have it on its own, and every other day.
What to serve buttered spinach with?
The classic Italian side to a steak is spinach, and it might not sound quite right to us but hey! don't Italians know best? More conventionally, serve it with fish.
Washing is a chore but it's worth it
I know - so tempting to thaw a packet of frozen spinach or even throw it into a saucepan like chunks of an iceberg and let the heat do the job. Fresh spinach needs to be washed, usually, and I don't really trust those bag of ready washed leaves - 'chlorinated' is a scary word.
I usually throw the leaves into a sink with cold water, shake them about to lose the sand and snails and then put them, in batches, through a salad spinner. Bag them and keep for up to a week when it's prepared like this.
Know your spinach
Spinach is super easy to prepare it, not only buttered like below but also with blue cheese or cream; but it’s just as easy to ruin it if you handle it wrong.
Baby spinach is a bit ridiculous and fit only for a dainty salad – why would you want to pick tiny leaves instead of letting them grow bigger and meatier? Spinach shrinks to nothing when cooked anyway.
But just as bad are the huge, overgrown tough leaves: they go dirty grey colour when blanched and taste bitter.
Pick it off the stems
Stems are a nasty element of a spinach dish – pick the leaves off them whatever you do. Often even pretty good restaurants don’t bother, and it’s like you were served a dish of beanstalks rather than creamy greens.
Blanch or not?
If you have fresh, clean, nicely grown spinach, rinse it thoroughly and spin in a salad spinner, as above; and there's no need to blanch it. It will release less moisture than if you blanch and try to squeeze the living daylights out of it. Trust me. And then proceed as below.
buttered spinachServings: 2-4Time: 15 minutes
- 400g (1 pound) fresh spinach, stems removed if possible
- 50g (3 tbsp.) unsalted butter
- 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
- salt and black pepper
1. Wash the spinach thoroughly and dry it in batches in a salad spinner; or with paper towels as much as you can; the drier the leaves, the less soggy the dish will be. Chop it very roughly.
2. Melt 1 tbsp. of the butter in a large frying pan or a wok over medium heat; add the garlic and cook until softened but not coloured.
3. Turn up the heat and add the spinach with another tbsp. of butter; season it generously with black pepper but no salt. Cook it for a couple of minutes, turning constantly with tongs until it’s all wilted.
4. Add the rest of the butter and toss the spinach about until the butter melts and the leaves are wilted, dark and glossy.
5. Take it off the heat and season lightly with salt. Serve immediately.