I’m Popeye the Sailor Man
I’m Popeye the Sailor Man
I’m strong to the finich
Cause I eats me spinach
I’m Popeye the Sailor Man
It is no surprise that I love spinach, although that’s not how Spinach Tiger got her name. Spinach TIger is more about a food viewpoint than it is about spinach, and I’ve almost shied away from it not wanting to be cliche. But, it’s time to give spinach the focus it deserves.
My first encounter with spinach was something that (in the cartoon) Popeye the Sailor Man would eat. During a feisty encounter in his weakest moment, spinach would pop out of a can he had hidden in a pocket and it would give him super human strength to beat down his nemesis, Bluto. His girlfriend, Olive Oyl would often watch in the background, ready to give him dancing, googly eyes and say, “oh Popeye.”
And, what every parent hoped for came true for me. I wanted spinach. I was not attracted for taste or pleasure. I wanted that strength. It was my first lesson about the power of food.
Thanks to Popeye, I never had to be convinced to eat spinach, although fresh spinach scared me. The raw spinach of yesterday is nothing reminiscent of what you purchase in stores today. It was a high maintenance vegetable, usually savoy spinach with curly leaves that was full of gritty dirt and sand. My grandmother never fully got the knack of cleaning it properly and with each bite of spinach fritters, you got a little extra gritty crunch. Today most spinach consumed is more often baby spinach leaves which is very consumer friendly. And, that makes this soup very easy to make.
I admit that I purchase my spinach in a large bag already cleaned up. If you buy spinach from a farmer’s market, make sure you clean it really well, getting all that grit off.
This soup is best with a homemade broth, but you can use a high quality store bought broth. I had fresh chicken stock on hand and used that instead of the recommended meat broth. I also used non-fat organic milk in a ratio of 2-1 broth to milk. I also added more onion and at the end used an emulsifying blender.
It turned out so delicious that I want to make it again this week. It was surprising hit with the boos (who are two years old), and ended up being the first soup they ever fed themselves. Even Retro Rose liked it, and she’s not a spinach soup type.
While Marcella recommends a good quality white bread, I had a loaf of Twin Forks Farm Expedition Bread in the freezer that made the best, chewiest, tastiest crostini. You could probably use any of your favorite bread, even raisin nut could be an interesting choice.
A Little Spinach Q and A
Is Spinach all that it seems to claim as a healthful benefit?
Yes, spinach is considered to be one of the most nutrient dense foods available, extraordinarily high in vitamin K, A, and C and 13 different flavonoid compounds.
Type of Spinach?
Savoy: Dark green, crinkly, curly, sold loose in fresh produce department and is the hardest to clean.
Semi-savoy: Less crinkly, and easier to clean.
Flat Leafed: most often packaged, easiest to clean, most consumer friendly
Where did my spinach go?
Once cooked, spinach shrinks by 75% so if you are counting on serving a side of steam spinach, take that into account. A lot goes a little way.
Warning for Babies under six months:
Spinach leftovers that are warmed up (especially at high heats) can be dangerous for small children, turning nitrates into nitrites, as the formation of poisonous compounds are formed.
Who made spinach famous?
Originally from Florence, Catherine de Medici, took spinach to France with her as Queen, and, thus, dishes made from spinach are often “florentine.”
How do I love spinach, let me count the way?
Tucked into sandwiches
Added to basil pesto by the handful
Added to pasta raw just as pasta is drained
In any manicotti, ravioli or lasagna
Olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper
Underneath poached eggs with hot sauce
In quiche, frittata or anything eggs
How do YOU like your spinach?
- 2 pounds fresh spinach (2 large fresh containers) or 2 ten-ounce frozen
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 3 cups homemade chicken broth (You can use meat broth or a good quality organic store-bought broth diluted 2 broth -1 water)
- 1 cup non-fat organic milk
- whole nutmeg
- 5 tablespoons pecorino cheese, freshly grated or
- parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
- sea salt
- Crostini (Italian Croutons)
- 4 pieces bread
- vegetable oil (can use olive oil)
- Steam fresh spinach or cook frozen.
- Put spinach in pan with no more water than necessary with salt.Cook for a few minutes, just until wilted.
- Allow to thoroughly cool, and squeeze water using paper towels.I wrapped steamed spinach in paper towels and refrigerated overnight.
- Put onion in cold pan with butter. Saute until soft. Add spinach and cook for 2 -3 minutes.
- Add broth, milk and a small grating of nutmeg. Bring to a simmer and stir from time to time.
- Cook about 20 minutes. Add cheese.
- Stir, cook until cheese integrated. Season with salt to taste.
- Serve at table with crostini, more cheese and optional olive oil to top off.
- Cut off crusts, and cut bread into 1” squares
- Saute in oil until crisp. Serve immediately or same day.