Spinach 101

First published 10th Feb, 2023

Spinach is high on the list of superfoods but low on the “oh yeah I want to cook that” list. Yes you can buy it washed, chopped and ready for the pot but that is expensive and it doesn’t last long in the fridge. And it grows like a weed in a small space, constantly renewing itself as you pick.

But what to do with those unruly freshly-picked bunches? We have discovered exactly how to tame the beast - read on.

Step 1 - Get Rid of The Veins

Okay, so your sink is full of great big veiny leaves. Fill the sink with cold water to rinse the leaves and as you take each leaf out pull the sides away from the big vein that runs down the middle. Pop the veiny bits one side (really nice for compost or hen food) and put the leafy bits in a bowl.

Step 2 - Wilt and Squeeze

Once you have deveined in this manner and disposed of the veiny bits, boil a full kettle of water and pour it over the spinach leaves in the bowl. Use a wooden spoon to make sure all the spinach gets covered in the boiling water. 

Leave the spinach to wilt for 5 minutes, then tip into a colander and run cold water over it so that you can handle it. Now squash the spinach up and squeeze the water out, “kneading” it on your clean draining board, so that you get out as much water as you can.

Step 3 - The Easy Chop

Shape the spinach into a long rectangle and place on a cutting board. You can now chop your spinach really easily without worrying about herding unruly leaves under the knife!

The Spinach is Now Recipe-Ready!

The spinach is now ready to add to any recipe. Add it to a cheese sauce or savoury mince or simply saute for a few minutes in butter and garlic and serve alongside a main. The beauty of the pre-wilting is that the spinach will not make your sauce or bake watery when you add it, as so often happens.

Why not buy a bunch of fresh spinach, tame it, and try the following recipe?

Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Creamed Spinach

You will need:    (4 servings)


salt & black pepper to taste

150 g grated Parmesan cheese

90 g butter

4 chicken breasts cut horizontally to make "steaks"

2 Tbsp flour

500 ml milk

pinch of nutmeg

1 x big bunch of fresh spinach

150 g grated Cheddar cheese


Prepare your spinach as we have described above and chop it. Set aside.

Melt 2/3 (60 g) of the butter in a sauce pan and while it is melting heat the milk for 2 minutes in the microwave. It should be hot but not boiling.

When the butter is melted add the flour and use a wooden spoon to stir in and make a paste. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the milk, continuously stirring with the wooden spoon or a whisk. It will soon blend and thicken. Add a pinch of nutmeg and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt.

Keep stirring with the wooden spoon and as soon as you see the sauce coming to the boil add the spinach. Stir in and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until blended. Take off the heat and keep warm while you do the chicken.

Crack the eggs into a dish big enough to dredge the pieces of chicken in and beat with a fork. Place the grated Parmesan in a similar sized dish.

Using a non stick pan if possible and on a high heat melt the remaining butter along with some oil. Take a piece of chicken, dredge it through the beaten egg and then press it into the Parmesan on each side so the Parmesan sticks to the egg.

Place the chicken piece in the pan and let it fry for at least 3 minutes before turning and cooking the other side. Lightly salt each side of the chicken as it cooks. Repeat with the rest of the chicken pieces.

Serve the chicken with the creamed spinach.

And while we are talking about superfoods why don't you check out how to tame the unruly bunch of beetroot that looks so intimidating?

We can't think of many things that are better for you than these two often-ignored veg.


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