Spinach is one of my favorite leafy vegetables. For its flavor, for its versatility and for the short cooking time it requires. But it wasn’t always a favorite. In fact, it wasn’t even among the vegetables I ate without a fight when I was a child. I had a deep prejudice for it courtesy of a cartoon character.
I’m talking about Popeye the Sailor Man, of course. He with the oversized arms who was forever gulping spinach straight from the can. Watching him do it was not a visual delight. Far, far from it. It wasn’t until I was adult that I learned to appreciate spinach. Fresh spinach; never canned.
If historians’ claims are accurate, spinach was first cultivated in old Persia (today’s Iran) some 2,000 years ago. Its use as food spread to India and ancient Chine, but did not reach Europe until the 9th century.
So, yes, spinach has a long history as food. And I can fully understand why its popularity grew. It can be eaten raw but it can also be cooked in various ways. Here at home, we find that spinach goes so well with cheese.
On its own, even when cooked very simply, spinach makes a wonderful vegetable dish. Flavor it with garlic, soy sauce and oyster sauce and its such a great accompaniment for grilled meat.
- 4 large handfuls spinach rinsed and drained well
- 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- Roughly chop the spinach.
- Heat the sesame oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Add the spinach. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Stir fry for a minute.
- Add the garlic. Stir fry for another minute. Turn off the heat.
- Mix together the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Pour over the spinach. Stir a few times.
- Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.