Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is an edible flowering plant in the same family (Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae) as chard and beets. It shares a similar taste profile with these two other vegetables - it has the bitterness of beet greens and the slightly salty flavor of chard. It is native to central and southwestern Asia.
Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (Iran). Spinach made its way to China in the 7th century when the king of Nepal sent it as a gift to this country. Spinach has a much more recent history in Europe than many other vegetables. It was only brought to that continent in the 11th century, when the Moors introduced it into Spain. In fact, for a while, spinach was known as "the Spanish vegetable" in England.
Spinach was the favorite vegetable of Catherine de Medici, a historical figure in the 16th century. When she left her home of Florence, Italy, to marry the king of France, she brought along her own cooks, who could prepare spinach the ways that she especially liked. Since this time, dishes prepared on a bed of spinach are referred to as "a la Florentine."
Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables like spinach with its delicate texture and jade green color provide more nutrients than any other food. Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. It is a rich source of vitamin A (and especially high in lutein), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Recently, opioid peptides called rubiscolins have also been found in spinach. It is a source of folic acid (Vitamin B9), and this vitamin was first purified from spinach. To benefit from the folate in spinach, it is better to steam it than to boil it.
Uses & Recipes:
Add layers of steamed or sautéed spinach to your next lasagna recipe.
Toss steamed or sautéed spinach with pressed garlic, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese.
Pine nuts are a great addition to cooked spinach.
Or use it in a salad.
Spinach and Strawberry Salad
Arugula or Spinach Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Black Olives, Pecorino Romano, Sliced Chicken Sausage, and Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
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