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May 2004 Issue
by J. Sinclair
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It's time to join Popeye in giving praise to spinach. This cold weather crop is at the peak of its season now, although it is readily available all year in both fresh and frozen varieties.

Speaking of frozen, spinach was the first vegetable to be sold in its frozen form. Today, it's used in everything from creamy dips to quiche to casseroles. The fresh variety is perfect for salads and tucking into sandwiches for a great nutritional boost. Consumption of spinach has been linked to reduction in risk of age-related macular degeneration, cancer and heart disease. Some studies have even suggested that the compounds found in spinach may improve memory!

With so many reasons to enjoy spinach, it's a shame that more people don't eat it. Perhaps it’s the stigma that it tends to gain with youngsters being told to eat it at the dinner table after it's been cooked past its prime. Fresh spinach should always be handled gently and cooked with only a minimal application of heat -- if at all. Its best applications have it starring in salads and the like. Frozen spinach is best used mixed into casseroles, dips and fillings. To get you started with your spinach adventure, I'm offering two recipes -- one featuring fresh spinach and the other frozen. Enjoy!


Spinach & Strawberry Salad

It's hard to go wrong with a seasonal salad like this. Since baby spinach and strawberries are both in season, find the finest available and dress it lightly. In fact, I like to serve the dressing on the side and simply dip my fork in it before snatching a bit of salad.
  • 1 (10 oz.) pkg. baby spinach leaves
  • 8 oz. fresh strawberries
  • 2 oz. sliced toasted almonds
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
Divide the baby spinach among four salad plates. Wash, hull and slice the strawberries and divide evenly among the plates. Sprinkle each salad with some sliced almonds.

In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the remaining ingredients and shake vigorously to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salads or serve on the side.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

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