Spinach is a great addition to many recipes and can be eaten either raw or cooked. When eaten raw, spinach has a nuttier flavour, and certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and potassium more available to our bodies. On the other hand, cooking spinach releases oxalic acid, allowing certain other nutrients, such as vitamins A and E and iron more available to the body. Therefore, by including both raw and cooked spinach in the diet, you will ensure that you retrieve all of the potential goodness from this nutritious vegetable.
Boiling, steaming or wilting Spinach
When cooking spinach it is more popular to boil or steam the leaves. This is because spinach leaves do not take long to cook, and steaming or boiling is quick and effective.
Generally leaves are boiled or steamed just long enough for them to wilt but not to lose their colour. This gives time for the oxalic acid to leak into the water, freeing up a number of nutrients (but not allowing more nutrients to escape). Usually boiling or steaming spinach for about a minute is sufficient.
Spinach is a popular ingredient for soups, smoothies, pesto and dips.
Spinach can either be blended with other ingredients when raw, or cooked first.
If cooking to be blended, blanch the spinach in boiling water, then immediately transfer the spinach into iced water. Drain out the excess water before pureeing.
Sautéing spinach may not be as healthy as boiling or steaming, but it is extremely tasty and still preserves many of the nutrients. Again, sautéing spinach should be quick so that the texture, flavour and colour are not lost. Extra virgin olive oil is the most stable to cook with at high temperatures, making it a popular choice for sautéing. When sautéing, keep the spinach moving in the pan so that it doesn’t burn. Sautéing with garlic, chilli or onion brings out the sweet flavour of the spinach too.