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Spinach: The Food that Made Popeye Great

May 9, 2009 | by Chef Herschel Arnow

It wasn't until my wife made creamed spinach that I really realized what I was missing.

I used to love to watch Popeye. It was great to watch him in action after he ate his spinach. I'm sure many parents used Popeye to assure their children that if they ate spinach they would be like him. As for me, my parents didn't like spinach, so I never had to worry about it.

It wasn't until my wife made creamed spinach that I really realized what I was missing. Now spinach is a fashion food. You are considered in the "in" crowd if you include it your menus.

It was considered a very high source of iron, as well as Vitamins A and C. But because spinach contains oxalic acid, which prevents the body from absorbing calcium and iron, its nutrition value is somewhat diminished.

Spinach may be used raw, in salads, or cooked / boiled / sautéed and used as a vegetable or as part of a dish. Fresh spinach is available almost all of the year. Choose leaves that are crisp and dark green with a nice fragrance.

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2 cups frozen spinach
2 tbsps. butter or margarine
1 tbsp. chopped onion
1 tbsp. Flour
1/2 cup cream or parve cream
1 tsp. Sugar
pinch of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter, add onion, sauté until golden brown. Stir in flour until well blended. Stir in slowly hot cream. Add sugar. Add spinach. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Spinach in Pancakes

Prepare: Creamed spinach

Then prepare: French Pancakes

3 eggs
2 tbsps. Flour
1tbsp. Water
1 tbsp. Milk
pinch of salt

Combine and stir until consistency of thin cream. Place butter in a pan. Pour enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry one minute, then turn over until well browned.

Prepare: Sautéed Mushroom

1 lb. of mushrooms
2 tbsps. butter or 1 tbsp. cooking oil
1 clove garlic

Slice mushrooms. Sauté in butter or oil. Add mushrooms with garlic. Cook over moderate heat 3 to 5 minutes.

Place the spinach and mushrooms on pancakes. Roll them like a jelly roll. Sprinkle the tops with grated cheese. Place the rolls under a broiler until the cheese is melted. Serve at once.

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All the following recipes are taken from: EPICURIOUS FOOD


Tahini, a creamy sesame seed paste, adds a new twist to the dressing for the salad.


1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tbsps. tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 tbsps. coarse-grained mustard
1 tsp. Honey
1 small garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in blender and blend well. Gradually blend in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


2 large red onions
12 cups (packed) baby spinach, trimmed
10 large radicchio leaves

Cut onions lengthwise into ½-inch-thick wedges, leaving root ends intact. Place onions in 15" X 10" glass baking dish. Pour 1 cup vinaigrette over onions, coating evenly. Let marinate 3 hours. Chill remaining dressing. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill onions.)

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Sprinkle onions with salt and pepper. Grill or broil onions until golden, turning occasionally, about 12 minutes. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Place spinach in large bowl. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Fill radicchio leaves with spinach. Top with grilled onions. Pass remaining dressing separately.

Makes 10 servings.

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This recipe can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.

4 red bell peppers
1 tsp. Honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb. fresh baby spinach (about 8 cups packed)

Quick roast and peel pepper. Cut roasted peppers into 1/2 " wide strips. In a small bowl whisk together honey, mustard, and vinegar. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified, and season with salt and black pepper. Roasted peppers and vinaigrette may be prepared 2 days ahead and chilled separately, covered.

In a large bowl toss roasted peppers and spinach with vinaigrette and salt and black pepper to taste.

Makes 6 servings.

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Look for rice vinegar in the Asian Foods section of the supermarket.

8 tbsps. olive oil
3 tbsps. Sugar
3 tbsps. unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tbsps. soy sauce
1 3-oz. package Asian noodle soup mix, noodles coarsely broken
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 tbsps. sesame seeds
1 10-oz. bag ready-to-use spinach leaves
1 bunch green onions, chopped

Whisk 6 tbsps. oil, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce in small bowl to blend. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add noodles from soup mix (reserve seasoning packet for another use), nuts and sesame seeds. Stir until noodles, nuts and seeds are toasted and golden, about 8 minutes. Pour contents of skillet into large bowl and cool 10 minutes. Add spinach and green onions to same bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Serve, passing remaining dressing separately.

Makes 6 servings.

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This recipe can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.

1 red onion
1 pint vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
4 cups mixed crunchy sprouts (available at specialty produce markets and some natural food stores and supermarkets) such as pea and lentil
¾ lb. baby spinach

Halve onion lengthwise and very thinly slice crosswise. In a bowl cover onion with cold water. Chill onion in water 30 minutes.


3 tbsps. cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsps. Sugar
1 tsp. powdered mustard or 2 tsps. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Make dressing while onion is chilling.

In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste and add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified. Dressings may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.

Drain onion in a colander and pat dry. Quarter tomatoes and in a large bowl toss with onion, sprouts, spinach, and dressing.

Makes 8 servings.

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This recipe is taken from: "Patricia Wells at Home in Provence"

Rather than making herbs part of a green salad, why not make these fresh, flavorful greens THE salad? When tarragon is fresh in the market or your garden overflows with this extraordinarily powerful herb, why not serve it with honor as a salad on its own? The idea really is to mix and match judiciously. Just don't use so many herbs that they lose their personality. Good combinations include parsley, mint and tarragon. Or consider an all-mint salad to accompany grilled lamb, an all-tarragon salad to accompany grilled chicken. Other herbs that can be added to the following salad mix include a very judicious addition of hyssop, sage, chervil, and marjoram. Just be sure to include leaves only - no cheating - leaving all the stems behind!

1 tsp. best-quality sherry wine vinegar
1 tsp. best-quality red wine vinegar
fine sea salt to taste
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 ozs. (60 g) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, carefully stemmed, rinsed, and dried
2 ozs. (60 g) fresh chives, rinsed, dried and minced
2 ozs. (60 g) fresh dill leaves, carefully stemmed, rinsed, dried and chopped
2 ozs. (60 g) fresh tarragon leaves, carefully stemmed, rinsed, dried and leaves separated
2 ozs. (60 g) fresh mint, stemmed, rinsed, dried and leaves separated

In a large, shallow salad bowl, whisk together the vinegars and salt. Whisk in the oil and pepper. Taste for seasoning. Add all the herb leaves and toss to evenly coat the greens with the dressing. Taste for seasoning. Serve in small portions as an accompaniment to roast chicken or grilled or poached fish.


The dressed salad can also be placed, open-face-sandwich-fashion, on top of grilled bread that has brushed with olive oil.

Makes 4-6 servings.

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Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less but requires additional unattended time.

2 1/4 cups water
a 10-oz. box couscous (about 1 1/2 cups) 1/2 tsp. Salt
3 tbsps. fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small bunch spinach, coarse stems discarded and leaves washed thoroughly, spun dry, and shredded fine (about 2 cups)
3 large scallions, sliced thin
3 tbsps. finely chopped fresh dill, or to taste

In a saucepan bring water to a boil and stir in couscous and salt. Remove pan from heat and let couscous stand, cover 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and transfer to taste and cool couscous completely. Stir in spinach, scallions, and dill and chill salad, covered, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Makes 6 servings.

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