Tuesday, September 21, 2010

so now it is spinach week...what would popeye say?

for some reason, we did not eat spinach often when we were kids. i don't know why... maybe it was not widely available unless you had a garden and planted your own? my mom rarely used canned vegetables...but every once in a while she would serve canned spinach. have you ever tasted canned spinach? if not...don't. it has been many years...but i still remember the slimy, metallic taste...ick! so i always thought i hated spinach. fast forward many years to my early 20's. spinach salads became very popular...remember? i discovered the taste of fresh spinach and fell in love. why would anyone eat the canned version? then i started sautéing spinach...all greens actually...and they became a staple in my home.

something magical happens when you sauté spinach...the sweetness intensifies. i heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet, add some minced garlic, a pinch of aglio-olio-peperoncino (or red pepper flakes), sea salt and black pepper...throw in the spinach...and sauté briefly, just until the spinach begins to wilt. delicious! it always amazes me how dramatically the spinach reduces when cooked. a huge panful becomes a pretty tiny serving...but that amount retains all the vitamins, minerals and fiber...how cool is that?

don't you love it when something that tastes good is actually really good for you? spinach (and all dark leafy greens) meets this criteria beautifully. spinach is an excellent source of niacin and zinc, and a very good source of fiber, protein, vitamin a, vitamin c, vitamin e, vitamin k, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin b6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese.* so eat spinach...eat a lot of spinach...happily, it is spinach week at fall fest..so here we go...

*nutrient data provided by USDA SR-21

i took a different approach to my planter boxes this year. instead of all flowers, i plant mainly vegetables & herbs with a few flowers for color. (i already have a lot of rose bushes and hydrangeas so am well stocked with flowers for cut arrangements.) this fall i have added lettuce, spinach and kale to the planters...hopefully they will thrive and fresh spinach will be available whenever i wish...just a few steps from my back door.i am still getting a lot of zucchini and summer squash in my weekly csa box. i just harvested the last of the jalapeños from my garden...had some organic carrots on hand...so i created (inspired by bon appetit) a mixed vegetable fritter recipe...full of veggies & just enough flour to bind together...and served over a huge mound of spinach lightly dressed in a honey-mustard vinaigrette. perfect for the warm weather we are having the last day of summer.

mixed vegetable fritters on spinach with honey mustard vinaigrette
1 lb mixed zucchini & summer squash (1 lb total)
1/2 lb carrots
1 tsp kosher salt
1 jalapeño seeded and minced
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch freshly cracked black pepper
grey sea salt
pinch aglio olio peperoncino (or red pepper flakes)
2 tbsp honey mustard
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 large handful per person organic baby spinach leaves

honey mustard vinaigrette
1/8 cup champagne vinegar
pinch grey salt
pinch black pepper
1 tbsp honey mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

make viniagrette... add vinegar, salt pepper and mustard to small bowl and whisk to incorporate. pour in e.v.o.o in a stream whisking constantly. taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. transfer to small mason jar with lid and set aside.

make fritters... preheat oven to 350 degrees. using the shredding disc with the largest holes on a cuisinart, grate the zucchini, squash and carrots. (alternatively, you can use a box grater...again, use the side with the largest holes). place the shredded vegetables in a colander set over the sink and sprinkle with the kosher salt. let sit for 30 minutes then pour onto a clean kitchen towel. tightly roll up the towel and let sit for another 15 minutes. squeeze the towel tightly to extract as much liquid as possible and set aside.

add flour, baking powder, pepper , aglio (or red pepper flakes) and a pinch of the grey sea salt to a mixing bowl and mix together. scrape in the grated vegetable mixture from the towel, the jalapeño and the mustard. stir until the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. add the feta and stir again.

add the grapeseed oil to large skillet and heat over medium heat until the oil begins to shimmer. using a ladle, drop the vegetable mixture into the hot oil and then flatten each fritter into a disk approx 3-4 inches in diameter. cook 5 minutes, or until side is deep brown and then flip and cook another 4-5 minutes. when done, fritters will be deeply caramelized brown on both sides. be careful not to burn. depending on the size of your skillet, you will have enough batter to complete this process 2-3 times. you can either serve the fritters as soon as they are ready, or place on a rimmed cookie sheet and keep warm in preheated oven while you finish the rest of the batter.

to serve... mix the vinaigrette by shaking the mason jar (ensure lid is tightly capped). place the spinach in a salad bowl and dress lightly with the vinaigrette, about 1 tbsp per serving. season to taste with sea salt and pepper. add the spinach to a serving platter and top with the fritters. serve immediately. (alternatively, create individual servings with a large handful of dressed spinach on a salad plate and top with 2-3 fritters per serving)

happy fall everyone...and happy spinach week. let me know what you think of the fritters...and, if you have any tips on growing spinach, please, please share...

want to win a free cookbook? remember when i told you that i had a recipe published in a new cookbook thinkfood, recipes for brain fitness? i was thrilled to receive a couple of copies in the mail. i am featured on page 47!! i have decided to give away a copy...my first ever contest. all you need to do to enter is leave a comment on one of my september 2010 blog posts. tell me in the comments that you would like to be entered in the drawing. i will announce the winner during the first week of october...so be sure to check us out to see if you win.

now it is your turn to participate in fall fest. simply leave your spinach tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below, and then go visit the collaborators listed on the blog away to garden and do the same.

the cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. yes, copy and paste them everywhere! that way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.

always...much thanks to margaret roach and deb puchalla for coordinating summer and now fall fest 2010. as always...its been a blast...happy fall everyone..

best and happy cooking!

diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "

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dejavucook said...

Great post and great info. Will be making this soon, thanks. I posted a page of spinach recipes for the reader to choose from for "Fall Fest:

vegetarianirvana said...

very interesting way to make fritters. I usually add liquid to the veggies, you have removed the moisture.will definitely try this method.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi dejavucook and welcome! thanks for sharing all of your recipes...am always looking for new ways to prepare spinach.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi vegetarian nirvana...yes, these contain more vegetables than other recipes...the flour just holds it together, so you need to remove the liquid to ensure the fritters are crispy. let me know how you make yours...i love fritters...

Sharon said...

Those fritters look delicious. I plan to make them this weekend, Thank you for the recipe.

Leslie said...

I love LOVE love Spinach.
Great recipe.
Have a wondeful Sunday

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi sharon...thanks for the response. did you make the fritters? how were they?

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi leslie...i love spinach too. thanks for the comments. (btw, your halloween decorations are very cool)