Spinach is a leafy green producing succulent, dark green, spoon-shaped leaves. It offers a subtle, yet assertive vegetal flavor often with iron or metallic notes. Depending upon variety and maturity, Spinach can be sweet, earthy, nutty and even tangy.
Spinach is available year-round.
Spinach, botanically classified as Spinacia oleracea, has three varieties: savoy, semi savoy and flat-leafed. The savoy spinach has crinkled leaves and is the primary commercial type. Semi-savoy has partially crinkled leaves and is most often processed but can also be found in markets, while flat-leafed is mainly processed. Spinach seeds come in two varieties, round and prickly, the variety of seed having no impact on the type of spinach grown from it. Some trace the name Spinach to a Latin in origin, Spinacia, which translates to "spine" referring to the spiny seed coat found on some spinach seeds. Others say it gets its name from the old Persian word aspanakh.
An excellent source of antioxidants, Spinach has four times the beta carotene of broccoli. Its high lutein content helps to lower cholesterol and aid in eye health. Spinach also contains carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and folic acid. For best nutritional value, eat raw or slightly cooked.
Spinach can be eaten fresh or cook and stands up well to heat, baking and sauteing. Use as in a salad mix or as a dark, leafy green. It is highly versatile and pairs well with spring vegetables, citrus, berries, eggs, nuts, bacon, pasta, cream and fresh cheeses. Flavor with Indian or Middle Eastern spices, creams, ginger, garlic, shallots, chiles and soy. Spinach will keep, dry and refrigerated, for one to two weeks.