Glory be to God for Frozen Spinach

This is as woeful as a food photo gets.

This is a battered and beat up store brand 10 ounce package of frozen spinach. With the exception of those chichi microgreen spinaches suitable for salads I don’t see the point of buying fresh spinach.

I’ll come clean here about my history with spinach. When I was a child my mother served — as God is my witness — canned spinach. Unlike Popeye, her children failed to thrive. We went on hunger strikes, puked at the table, and resisted any suggestion that spinach would make us big and strong. We’d rather be Wimpies than eat spinach.

I lived a full, spinach-free life until I encountered real Italian cooking. All those sumptuous gnocchis and gnuddis and minestrones  showed me I was a victim of canned spinach abuse and that the dirty sandy green stuff was my culinary buddy. The real Ah Hah moment was my first visit to the Berghoff restaurant in Chicago after my marriage. Their creamed spinach was a side, and the scales fell from my eyes.

But geez: you buy  fresh spinach by the armful, and it needs to be washed, trimmed cooked squeezed and  reduced from an armful to a cupful. I’m sorry to report, it’s not worth the effort or the money. Buy that 69 cent box of prewashed chopped spinach and bend it to your will, whether in dips, souffles, minestrones or: Creamed Spinach!

I found a year old block of frozen spinach in the freezer tonight. I cooked it in the microwave for four minutes. I dumped it into a strainer, pressed out excess liquid and tossed it in a saucepan with three tablespoons of butter, dashes of nutmeg, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Then I stirred in a couple of tablespoons of flour, cooked it down gently, and added a cup of half and half. Bubble bubble away until everything thickens up.

I spread it into a casserole and topped it with a golden later of Asiago. I’ll pop it into the oven with the (Nigella) dinner rolls. Cold chicken.

The frozen food aisle can be a noble and ecological and nutritional value place. Especially with spinach. No longer am I born in a garbage can.

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7 Comments

Filed under About a buck, Body, Food

7 responses to “Glory be to God for Frozen Spinach

  1. Kelly M.

    Yah yah yah. I stock up when on sale at my Ralphs, but the best price I’ve gotten is 88 cents. I put it in everything. Scrambled eggs and soup are faves. But I must admit to buying the bagged, prewashed stuff to use on sandwiches instead of lettuce, among other things. And since the 99 Cents Only store regularly stocks it, it fits into the budget. But I’m a late comer to the spinach love myself.

  2. I would have had a hate/hate relationship with the stuff, myself, considering that the only kind commercially available was the POPEYE glop—clots of slick pondscum in a can of tobacco juice—but we had an oddity in our family: A Mammaw who had her own love relationship with the folks at Park Seeds, to the extent that they corresponded in REAL letters, quite often.

    I knew it was going on then, and now I think of it as her being a sorta countrified Helene Hanff (she sent them POUNDCAKE!) I have no doubt that in addition to her questions and ideas about their products, they had probably even heard of my own smalltown exploits. She had ordered seeds for the most outlandish things—out of OUR land, anyway—celery root and cardoons and a strange variety of greens (blanket word for any green leaf that grew out of the ground, ready to eat).

    She had entire rows devoted to the new species, which featured LONG stems which crept across the ground, sprouting bright, shiny cup-leaves right and left, and was used in salads (especially Wilted Leddis and another hot-dressing gem—spinach and sliced white mushrooms with hot bacon dressing—I can just hear and smell the sizzle now, as the first drops of vinegar hit the pan), as well as dropped by handfuls into soups and spaghetti sauce. The long stems also had a magical regeneration, so the same rows of denuded sticks would be sprouting new little ears within hours.

    My greatest luck was that my Daddy thought the canned stuff an abomination, and so my only introduction to spinach was the lovely fresh kind, and I still choose spinach salad or creamed spinach when they’re on a menu.

  3. freakyfrites

    I’m a devotee of the bagged, baby kind! One trick I learned – it tastes really good if you chop it up before you use it (I know, duh!) Something about the chop makes it perfect to put in pasta, mix with other lettuces in salads, and use in soups like Kelly recommends!

    But I’ll give the frozen box a shot. Especially if it’s good for sauteeing.

  4. People, please. Trader Joe’s has a nice 1-lb. bag for some cheap price. I always have a couple in the freezer. Whap it on the counter edge to pour out what you want at the moment.

    But I do use fresh spinach too, ONLY when I can buy it from Farmer Mike, and then I commit to the prep for many bunches so that there is a usable amount resulting at the end of all that, prep. Don’t like the baby stuff, raw (nutrition not available w/o cookage, anyways) nor cooked.

    Rachel!!! GREAT to see you. Wilted leddis… I love wilted SO MUCH… is it on your blog???

  5. Thanks, dearest Rachel — I’ve returned the favor. I hope. I’m still wrassling with the tech ins and outs!

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