Follow Us:

Get the best from versatile leafy green vegetable- Spinach

How impressive this leafy vegetable is in terms of nourishment can be best known by its world-wide popularity as a food.

Deepa Gupta | New Delhi |

Spinach is a healthy and inexpensive green vegetable choice. It tastes great and can be used in many different ways. You can enjoy its earthy taste and leafy texture in myriad of hearty dishes.

Here are some good reasons to choose spinach more often:

Spinach is a part of ‘Amaranth’ family. Both raw and cooked are excellent sources of iron, containing twice as much as often other leafy greens. A 100 grams serving of raw spinach contains 2.71 mg of iron, whereas cooked spinach contains 3.57 mg of iron. Eating it in both raw and cooked form will provide you with the richest array of nutrients.When you eat cooked spinach, you will absorb higher levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, protein, fibre, zinc, thiamine, calcium, iron, carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Spinach is also rich in many essential nutrients when we consume it raw. These nutrients include folate, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin and potassium. There is no need to avoid raw spinach simply because it contains oxalic acid. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), manganese, folate, magnesium, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium. It is a very good source of dietary fibre, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and choline.

Spinach is available all year round in vegetable market. It makes it easy for you to pick up ahead and put it on your menu.

Try it in your favourite dishes:

Spinach is great for soups and stews.

The leafy greens are used often as a stuffing in parathas.

It is a great addition to gram flour pakoras.

Spinach is boiled and pureed to make a yummy main course dish ‘palak paneer’.

The leafy vegetable is quite popular to make koftas.

Load your lasagne with spinach.

It can be served simply with salt and butter or dressed up with cheese or cream.

Serve baby spinach raw in smoothies, salads or dips. It matches well with sharp or citrus-based dressings and ingredients.

Stuff it into your pasta.

Cook it with your hearty egg dishes.

Add it to lentils while cooking them to boost their flavour and health.

Buy spinach at its best:

When selecting spinach at the store, look for fresh leaves which are bright green in colour and appear freshly picked. Spinach that is older and paler in colour has been shown to contain lower concentration of nutrients. The leaves should be crispy in texture and fresh in aroma. Avoid bunches with wilted, yellow spotted or slimy leaves or with a sour or musty odour. Spinach stems should be fairly thin.

Tips for storing spinach:

Wrap spinach in a paper towel, damp or dry and keep it in a clean and closed container. You can also use resealable plastic bags instead of closed containers to keep them fresh for few days. Keep the container or plastic bag in crisper drawer or on a shelf in the refrigerator. Then spinach can last as long as a week with minimal wilting.

Tips for cooking spinach:

Wash and dry spinach leaves. Cook them in a wide frying pan with high sides allowing them to wilt evenly and evaporate liquid quickly.

You can blanch it, steam it or you can take the fastest route and saute it in a pan. Being a tender leafy green that contains quite a lot of water, sautéing method is preferred over blanching or steaming. It cooks off some of the excess water especially if the spinach is being added as an ingredient to dishes like lasagne.

When planning a menu that includes spinach, consider vegetables such as potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, and onions, as they are good companions. Spinach also pairs beautifully with paneer, lentils and whole grain flours. Whether you are looking for a main dish or a side dish or just a snack, each type of cooking – steaming, baking, sautéing, grilling or frying – offers a slightly different taste and texture to this vegetable, so do not be afraid to experiment.

While it’s a good idea to rotate your vegetables, spinach can be eaten every day to fight against age-related issues. It’s good to aim for at least a cup of fresh spinach or a half cup of cooked spinach each day for maximum nutritional benefits.