That was the question that I heard most at the market last weekend. Makes sense, considering that we had enough spinach on the table to feed a small country. Spinach lovers out there know that the possibilities are endless, but of course to answer that question, I start small, feel it out, try to assess which possibilities will make this one hungry person sing with spinach-induced joy, and if I can't get a read on them, I start out safe.
On and off today I've been checking in with a workshop that Penny De Los Santos is teaching through creativeLIVE. She is an amazing photographer who works mostly for Saveur these days, but she is also one of those people whose passion is so infectious--to hear her talk just makes me want to take risks. She's teaching a three day workshop, and she invited people to make videos on why they would like to take her course (see my friend Nikki's lovely video here), and she chose 6 people to join her in a room in Seattle, but the rest of the world gets to participate too. Watch some if you can- any length of time with her is a gift. My favorite thing she said today?
"Self-assign your dream assignment."
And that brings me back to the farmers market. Years ago now, the chance to work for Indian Line Farm at the market got me thinking about food in new ways, and it got me here, too. And I will never get sick of talking with people about how to cook spinach, at least I hope not. And whereas the basic sauteing if spinach with olive oil and garlic might be a standard for some, it is a new recipe for others. It is one of the things I love best about that place- do people ever ask how to cook a vegetable at the supermarket? I don't think so- they reach for what they know. So I'm bringing the market back in here. It's all far too connected to keep the two worlds separate.
This week, let's saute some spinach.
Slice a clove or two of garlic, so that it is in whole little chips. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a big saute pan. Add the garlic, and cook until the tiniest bit of browning happens. Add a few handfuls of unchopped spinach (leave the stems on if its nice and fresh and not too big), adding more as it wilts and you can fit more in the pan. Toss as you go- it will wilt quickly, then shuffle it around and add more to the pan. When all of the spinach is in the pan, add 1/4 cup milk. (This prevents the spinach from doing that strange thing where it makes you mouth feel numb.) Cover for about 10 seconds, then toss again and season with salt and pepper. The spinach will be just wilted- stop before it starts to brown.
And for those who want to find new tricks for familiar vegetables, a few spinach inspirations around the web:
Winnie's baby spinach and violet salad with blue cheese
Joy's kale, spinach and pear smoothie
Heidi's spiced coconut spinach recipe
Jenna's spinach feta turkey burgers