While there are certain vegetables that leave me cold no matter how they’re prepared (can you say Brussels sprouts?), I have always loved spinach. I’ve gone on the record before about the excellence of my mother’s cooking and baking. Nevertheless, the cooking going on in her kitchen circa 1950s and 1960s often gave preference to the convenience factor; her method of preparing spinach, for example, consisted of thawing a block of Birdseye. To her credit, she did spritz the cooked green mush with fresh lemon. How many nutrients we ended up with I cannot say.
When I began to cook, I reached back a generation for my Sicilian grandmother’s approach to cooking the leafy green vegetable: sautéed with garlic in olive oil.
This recipe—such a nice, bright accompaniment to grilled fish or meat—is so simple and swift as to be laughable. And exactly how good is it for you? Let’s take the three ingredients one by one, shall we?
- Rich in minerals such as potassium, manganese, zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium
- Source of such vitamins as folate, niacin, Vitamin A, B6, and C
- Packed with thiamine and riboflavin, and such beta carotene and lutein
- Low in fat
Translated, this means that spinach is good for your eyesight, as it protects you from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts; it’s good for your blood pressure and helps prevent atherosclerosis and heart attack; it strengthens your muscles and helps with bone mineralization; and it includes other neurological, antiulcerative, and anti-cancerous benefits.
- Boosts our natural supply of hydrogen sulfide, which acts as an antioxidant, relaxing blood vessels and increasing blood flow
- A garlic rich diet appears to protect against various cancers, including breast, prostate, and colon cancer
Yes, olive oil is a fat. But it’s a good fat, just like Glinda in The Wizard of Oz is a good witch. The reason the fat in olive oil is healthy is because it is a monounsaturated fatty acid, which helps to lower your total cholesterol.
As for simple and swift, you’ll have this prepared in under 10 minutes. Don’t believe me? Go ahead, time it.
Sicilian Sautéed Spinach
1 bunch of fresh (preferably organic) spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Wash and rinse spinach, remove stems, and tear into medium-size pieces
Preheat your non-stick skillet over medium heat for about 30 seconds, then add olive oil. Increase the heat to medium-high and heat the oil for about 30 seconds more.
Add garlic to hot oil, stirring quickly. Don’t let it burn or brown.
When garlic looks translucent, add a handful or two of spinach, stirring quickly with tongs. The spinach will cook down quickly; add the rest in batches until it’s all cooked down and bright green. Sprinkle kosher salt, to taste, to bring out the flavors. Serve.