Sautéed Spinach and the Pizza it Inspired

As a kid, I was fully aware that the reason Popeye had such big biceps was he ate spinach, straight out of the can. I was perfectly fine with my skinny arms. That was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

As I have become more aware of nutritional information and the idea of choosing nutrient-dense foods, dark leafy greens have made their way into my diet on a regular basis … usually in the form of salad. Here’s a list of the benefits of eating spinach taken directly from the Dole website

Excellent Source of Vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy vision.
Excellent Source of Vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system.
Good Source of Iron, which helps carry oxygen in the body.
Excellent Source of Vitamin K, which supports normal blood clotting.
Good Source of Riboflavin, which plays a role in energy metabolism.
Excellent Source of Folate, which helps maintain a healthy heart.
Good Source of Magnesium, which plays a role in energy production.
Excellent Source of Manganese, which plays a role in energy metabolism.

And 3 ounces of fresh spinach has only 20 calories and no fat.

Have you ever opened a bag of spinach, dumped it out and been amazed at just how much spinach is in that bag?? Did you know that a 3 ounce serving means eating half of that bag (assuming of course the 6 ounce bag)?  That’s a LOT of salad! Good news is no matter how much you actually eat, it is nutrient dense and great for you.

In the first picture above, I have emptied an entire bag of baby spinach into a sauté pan. The last picture shows how much it shrinks after cooking. I cannot say that I am enough of a spinach-lover to sit down and eat cooked spinach but I am getting close. I am more likely to add it to …

Grilled Cheese
Spinach-Artichoke Dip
Pasta Dishes & Sauces

… to boost the nutritional value of the meal.

Sautéed Spinach

1 Tbsp. Olive Oyl
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
1 6 oz. bag baby spinach
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat Olive Oyl (misspelling intentional given the Popeye reference), garlic, crushed red pepper and nutmeg (optional) in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add half the spinach to the pan, allow to steam/cook one minute and gently toss (bringing the spinach on the bottom up and allowing the spinach on top to reach the heat). Add the other half of the spinach, allow to steam/cook one more minute and gently toss (middle picture). Continue to toss for another minutes or two until it has wilted down consistently (last picture). Sprinkle with salt and remove from heat.

At this point, I like to transfer the spinach to a cutting board and spread it out a big to cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, I run a knife through it a few times to make the pieces smaller.  When completely cool, place in an airtight container and refrigerate.  If you aren’t going to use it over the next couple days, place it in a ziploc bag, seal tightly and freeze for another time.

Probably the number one reason I started doing this was I was tired of throwing away fresh spinach because it had started to spoil before I could use it all. By cooking what was left, the life, and options for using it, was extended.

Speaking of options, I made this pizza last night: store-bought pizza crust, drizzle of Spicy Garlic Parmesan Olive Oil (from The Olive Tap), sprinkle of Italian seasoning, sautéed spinach, crumbled goat cheese, bruschetta-style tomatoes, diced kalamata olives, small strips of prosciutto (La Quercia) and parmesan cheese.

I don’t like to brag, but … “Toot! Toot!” (another shameless Popeye The Sailor Man reference)

Too far?

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