Let's learn how to cook spinach, three ways - steaming, sautéing, and blanching. This superfood is not only loaded with health benefits, but also cooks in a jiffy.
Spinach is such a versatile ingredient and is loved all over the world! Thanks to Popeye, probably! Although we're here to talk about cooking spinach, let me just put it out there that raw spinach is good for you too, and is packed with a tonne of nutrients.
We eat spinach a few times a week in all sorts of things - curries, stir fries, in a smoothie, in salads, in a frittata (where you can easily hide it), stuffed in a chicken breast and our favourite - with ricotta in lasagna!
- Types of Spinach
- What makes it a superfood?
- Spinach Portion Guide
- How do I cook it without losing nutrients?
- Blanching Spinach
- Steaming Spinach
- Sautéing Spinach
- Tips while cooking Spinach
- Freezing Spinach
- Interesting & Delicious ways to eat Spinach
The types of Spinach
There are varied types of spinach to choose from, the most common being; savoy, semi-savoy, and smooth-leafed. Savoy turns out to be the most popular, as it looks and tastes better, and can be kept longer.
What makes it a super-food?
This leafy plant is packed with vitamins and antioxidants that have numerous health benefits. More importantly, it's known for its high source of iron, and anti-inflammatory properties. It's energy boosting component makes it the perfect ingredient for pre-workout snacks and drinks.
Spinach Portion Guide
1 cup of raw spinach will reduce to about ⅓rd cup after cooking. So while you may feel like it’s a lot, it’s really not. Use less water if you are pressure-cooking because spinach does not need much water to cook.
How to cook spinach without losing nutrients?
In the average Indian household including mine, delicious curries and stews sit on the stove simmering for hours, extracting every last unit of taste possible from the ingredients. Therefore, blanching is a widely ignored method of cooking in Indian cuisine. I’ve grown up eating stewed spinach curries or pressure-cooked variants like Palak Paneer. Yummy as they are, unfortunately, these age-old methods cater more to our taste buds and less to our nutrition.
And that's where we come in. We are going to take you show you how to cook spinach 3 easy ways that keep the nutrients intact.
You can just sprinkle some salt and pepper on it and enjoy it simply, or toss it in sesame oil and sesame seeds or in garlic oil if you love garlic as much as we do, or go ahead and puree it for soups, stews and curries. These 3 ways of cooking spinach will give you a great start!
Bring a pot of water to boil, dip the spinach in it for 1 minute. Take out the blanched spinach and immediately plunge it in a pot of cold water. This method is the most effective and recommended! Blanched spinach is perfectly cooked, harmful bacteria are killed, and the spinach does not lose its nutrients. Drain the spinach and store it in the fridge for up to 7 days. This way you'll always have cooked spinach on hand and it is easier to add spinach along with other veggies to omelets, soups, salad, etc.
This method usually helps retain the bright green colour of the leaf, while leaving them tender. Bring a pot of water to boil, and place a colander or steaming plate on top. Place the leaves in the colander and cover the pot. Steam for about 2-3 minutes until the leaves wilt. Once cooked, toss it around with oil (optional), and season with salt and pepper. Feel free to get creative with the seasoning. I'd personally recommend squeezing a dash of lime or balsamic vinegar, to cut the bitterness.
Heat oil in a pan on low-medium heat. You could choose to season the oil with minced garlic, chilli flakes or a spice of your choice. Add cleaned, raw spinach one fistful at a time. Once it wilts, add the next fistful. Saute till the spinach wilts.
Tips while cooking Spinach
- Rinse well: Rinse the spinach at least a few times in cold water, to dislodge any dirt. Always pat dry before cooking.
- Remove the stems: The stems are tough to chew and have an unpleasant bitterness. Tedious as it may sound, it is best to remove them before cooking.
- Cook a generous quantity: It’s important to be generous with the portion size, as they tend to leave out a lot of water, and reduce in quantity. To give you an approximation, a cup of spinach cooks down to ⅓ cup.
- Be miserly while adding oil : As spinach releases a lot of water, while cooking, it does not require a lot of oil. Adding oil, especially to spinach that is going to be further used in a dish (such as a quiche or a lasagne), tends to make the final dish oily.
- Be careful with seasoning: Spinach should be seasoned carefully because it has a mild saltiness to it. So never add too much salt at one go. Always taste and season.
- Squeeze out excess water, if desired: If you plan on using your spinach as a filling, gather it into a ball once it cools, and squeeze out any excess moisture.
How to freeze Spinach
Squeeze out all the water from cooked spinach, cool completely and then place it in ice trays. Spoon the spinach into each cube space and press it down till it fills up. Freeze the trays for 3 hours. Once completely frozen, pop out the spinach cubes and transfer them to a ziplock or a freeze friendly container.
Interesting & Delicious ways to eat Spinach
Okay, so the 3 methods of cooking spinach might retain their nutritional value. But how do we make it an interesting meal? Here’s how!
- Saute loads of minced garlic in olive oil, add seasoning, and then saute your spinach for a quick and light side to dinner!
- Throw in some spinach in your salad for a light-on-the-tummy dinner with my Spinach, Tomato, and Tofu salad recipe!
- Make a healthy and delish breakfast with my Spinach Potato Fritatta recipe or Spinach Smoothie
- Have a little more time? Make a vegetarian lasagna or ravioli for the kids. Weekend vibes? Try my Spinach Mushroom Stuffed Chicken recipe!
- Feeling like Indian? Indulge in some quick and easy Palak Paneer and Palak Paneer Koftas!
Spinach is the easiest vegetable to cook and it can taste delicious without much effort! I do hope this article on how to cook spinach was helpful. Leave your comments and spinach stories below!
This article has been researched and compiled by Bhavana Bhat and Rhea Melwani
How to cook spinach 3 ways
- 1 cup Spinach or baby Spinach
- 1 cup Spinach or baby Spinach
- ½ teaspoon Olive Oil
- 1 cup Spinach or baby Spinach
- Add leaves to a pot of boiling water, and let it sit for approx a minute or two. The spinach is ready when it turns a bright green colour and the leaves have wilted. Scoop out the spinach and dunk it in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain the spinach, squeeze out excess water and use.
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Keep a colander on top of it and place the raw spinach in the colander. Cover and cook for two to three minutes depending on the quantity of spinach till the leaves wilt completely.
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat and add a bunch of cleaned and dried spinach leaves. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes till the leaves wilt and leave out some moisture.
- Washing Spinach: Its essential to wash spinach well before cooking or using it. There is usually a lot of dirt stuck between the stems and leaves. Wash it a few times under running water till all the dirt washes away.
- Storing cooked spinach: Cooked spinach can be cooled and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days
- Freezing Spinach: You can fill ice cubes with cooked spinach and freeze for 3 hours. Then pop out the cubes and transfer them to a ziplock for use later. Frozen spinach can be added to smoothies or thawed to be used in soups, curries, stir fries etc