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Local food: Spinach

Posted Jun 18 2010 12:00am
So there you are at the farm stand, where everything looks nice and fresh and green (and it has been mostly greens around here up until now, although your season may be further along). Wonderful, but what will you make for dinner?

And, oh yeah, it has to be fast, because it’s already late and you’re hungry.

I'm totally convinced more people would buy local produce if only they knew what to do with it. Everything at the farm stand or market should be accompanied by a little shelf clip, like supermarkets sometimes use, but instead of grabbing a coupon you could tear off a really easy recipe calling for that vegetable.

Take spinach, for instance. It’s at the peak of its season, it looks gorgeous, and it’s so good for you, providing significant amounts of vitamin K, vitamin C, carotenes, and folic acid. But besides sauteing it with olive oil and garlic, what can you really do with it (that's not too complicated)?

Well, a bunch of things. Fold your sauteed spinach into the middle of an omelet or a burrito. Stir chopped raw spinach into a soup -- even a canned soup, if that's all you've got. Steam spinach in the tiniest bit of water, squeeze dry, and distribute on top of a pizza -- even a takeout pizza.

Here’s another way to use spinach. This quick, hearty main dish is good on nights when you don’t feel like making a big fuss in the kitchen but you still want to eat healthy (which, for me, is pretty much every night). I adapted it from Deborah Madison’s excellent , a cookbook that’s never once steered me wrong.

You probably already have the rest of the ingredients for this dish in your pantry and fridge, so just swing by the farm stand and buy a bag of spinach on your way home tonight. You can also use Swiss chard or beet greens for this (both are in the same family as spinach).
Green Lentils and Spinach with Toast

1/2 cup French green lentils, rinsed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 bag of fresh spinach (about 6-8 oz.), washed
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 eggs
2-4 slices of toast, buttered and cut into triangles
salt and pepper to taste

Put the lentils and salt in a small saucepan and cover with an inch or two of water. Bring them to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

Meanwhile, hard-boil the eggs. When they’re done, peel and chop. (You can also cook the eggs in advance and keep them in the fridge, if you’re a plan-ahead type.)

While the lentils and eggs are cooking, heat the butter or olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the sliced onions until golden, about 10 minutes. Add spinach, garlic, and a pinch of salt and saute until the spinach has wilted.

Drain the lentils, reserving the liquid, and add them to the pan along with enough liquid to make the mixture smooth, but not soupy. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Ladle the lentil mixture into bowls, garnish with chopped hardboiled egg, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with buttered toast triangles.

This makes 2 servings, but it can easily be multiplied.

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