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Spinach

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What is it?

The most versatile of cooking greens, spinach is great blanched and creamed, sautéed with brown butter, or wilted and tossed with pasta. Or use it raw in a spinach salad. You’ll likely find varieties with smooth leaves (flat-leaf) and crinkled leaves (Savoy). Savoy spinach tends to be darker and less fragile than flat-leaf spinach. Baby spinach is an immature stage of either type, with a delicate texture and flavor better suited for salads than for cooking.

Kitchen math:

A pound of fresh leaves will cook down to about a cup. For a side dish of cooked spinach, figure 8 oz. raw spinach per serving.

Don’t have it?

Other cooking greens, such as Swiss chard, can substitute for spinach; it will have a fuller flavor and may take a little longer to cook.

How to choose:

Unpackaged spinach, whether loose or bunched, is usually fresher with better flavor than leaves sealed in plastic. It’s also easier to see what you’re getting. Choose the perkiest-looking bunches (with no rot or yellow leaves) and untie them as soon as you get them home.

How to prep:

Wash spinach, even spinach that says its been washed, well in a few changes of cool water to get rid of any sandy grit. Trim away roots and any tough stems.

How to store:

Fresh spinach keeps well for two or three days sealed in a plastic bag in the fridge.

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