I used to think of spinach as one of those underwhelming, ubiquitous green vegetables, prepared only one of two ways: used as salad greens or simply sautéed with garlic and oil. As I got older, I became increasingly aware that what I thought was an underwhelming vegetable is actually quite beautiful, and tasty, and lends itself to all sorts of dishes.
While it’s available throughout the year, spinach is best in the spring; it’s one of the first greens available at the markets, and usually one of the last to leave before it closes for winter. Here are some of my favorite meals to make with this nutrient-packed green.
Spring Onion, Spinach, and Pine Nut Soup with Toasted Cumin Spring soups are a favorite around my house. In this one, I love the combination of the mildly bitter spinach and the subtleness of spring alliums. The pine nuts add a few nutty notes -- and some creaminess -- while the cumin offers toastiness. One pot is all you need to bring it all together for a cozy spring meal.
Vegan Spinach and Chive Pesto There are many greens and herbs that lend themselves well to pesto. But each spring, I find myself coming back to this spinach and chive combination; it’s hearty and light all at the same time, plus the pistachios give its flavor a bit more depth. Pair it with your favorite pasta, slather it over vegetables, use it as a dressing, or try it on any pizza or flatbread.
Lemon-Braised Spinach and Egg Toasts These braised spinach and egg toasts are a quick and comforting meal for any day of the week. Braising sounds a lot more complicated than it is; all that’s needed here is some olive oil, a bit of chopped shallot or onion, roughly chopped spinach, and a squeeze of lemon. Cook it up for a couple of minutes and add it to a piece of avocado toast topped with a soft-boiled egg. Go ahead, put an egg on it!
Chopped Spinach Fattoush Salad with Tahini-Sumac Sauce Fattoush hails from many parts of the Middle East. Generally, fattoush salads are made up of seasonal, chopped vegetables, a bit of stale pita or flatbread, and lots of herbs. Here, I chose to highlight spinach in its raw form -- chopped a bit along with vegetables, a whole bunch of parsley, mint, chives, and a creamy, tahini-sumac sauce. This is one of my absolute favorite things to eat.
Spinach, Mung Bean, and Millet Burgers Spinach gives a veggie burger a vibrant green color, along with a bit of earthiness that’s not too overpowering. Prepare it on the stovetop, bake it in a hot oven, or cook it outside on a grill -- it's up to you. And they can be made ahead of time, too, then kept in the freezer, defrosted, and cooked whenever you're ready.
1/2 cup cooked mung beans 1/2 cup cooked millet 3/4 cup fresh spinach, washed and stems trimmed 2 large leeks, cleaned and sliced 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or chili powder) Salt to taste Olive oil for cooking
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
Lindsey S. Love is a food blogger living in Brooklyn, NY with her husband. Her cooking and baking focus on healthful gluten free and dairy free, with occasional vegan recipes. You can follow her at dollyandoatmeal.com for additional recipes.