A new leaf: Mark Hix sings the praises of spinach

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Spinach is the versatile superfood that will keep you strong and healthy throughout the winter months. After all, if it was good enough for Popeye...

Spinach is a such a great leafy vegetable – as well as being a true superfood, it also evokes memories of the famous cartoon sailor Popeye and his favourite ingredient which kept him strong and healthy at sea.

I'm sure you are familiar with the experience where you go shopping for spinach and end up buying loads of the stuff, only to get it home and find that it cooks down to a single bowlful.

If you're cooking it, try to find thick-leaved bunches of spinach (try your local Asian supermarkets); the stalks are delicious, too. For salads, however, baby spinach leaves are best.

As I have a home on the coast in Dorset I tend to go down to the beach and pick sea spinach for free; it has a better flavour and texture than the shop-bought stuff.

Spinach, avocado and gorgonzola salad

Serves 4

Baby spinach leaves make a great, healthy and easy salad. Make sure you buy ripe avocados for this, too, as shops often sell avocados that are rock-hard.

150-200g baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
1-2 ripe avocados, peeled, stoned, and sliced
150g gorgonzola, broken into small nuggets, plus more for the dressing below

For the dressing

30ml white wine vinegar
2tsp Dijon mustard
50g gorgonzola
120ml vegetable or ground nut oil
30ml water

First make the dressing. Blend all of the ingredients in a liquidiser and season with salt and pepper and adjust the consistency with a little water if necessary. To serve, toss the spinach leaves and avocado with the dressing and season if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl or individual plates or bowls and scatter the cheese on top.

Puris with spinach and a poached egg

Serves 4

I always keep Indian puris in my freezer; you can buy them fresh or frozen from good Indian supermarkets and they are a great standby to serve with curries, as well as making a good base for this dish.

4 frozen puris
100g or so of butter or olive oil
4 spring onions, chopped
1 large green or red chilli, thinly sliced
300-400g spinach, cleaned
A few sprigs of coriander
4 eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping

1tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs, lightly browned
A good pinch of chilli flakes
Half a tbsp of melted butter

Melt about half of the butter in a large, preferably non-stick frying pan and fry the puris on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden, then keep warm. Melt the rest of the butter or oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the spring onion and chilli for 30 seconds, then add the spinach, season and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring as it's cooking until it has wilted; then stir in the coriander.

Meanwhile, poach the eggs. Spoon the spinach mixture on to each puri and place an egg on top. Mix together the ingredients for the topping and sprinkle over each puri.

Chorizo, spinach and grilled king scallop

Serves 4 as a starter

If you have a good fishmonger near you ask him to order you the biggest scallops he can get his hands on; otherwise just serve two or three smaller ones as a starter.

4 jumbo scallops, shucked and cleaned
100-150g cooking chorizo, skins removed and finely chopped
A couple of good knobs of butter
300-400g spinach, washed and dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large frying pan and gently cook the chorizo for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the spinach, season and cook on a medium heat, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until it has wilted. Meanwhile, heat a ribbed griddle pan or heavy frying pan, season the scallops and cook for 2 minutes or so on each side, keeping them slightly undercooked. To serve, spoon the spinach mixture on to warmed serving plates (you may need to drain it on kitchen paper if it has released some water); place the scallops on top.

Spinach and Parmesan soup with Parmesan croûtons

Serves 4-6

60g butter

1 large leek, washed and chopped
1tbsp flour
1.5ltrs hot vegetable stock
250-300g spinach
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
60-70g freshly grated Parmesan

For the croûtons

2-3 slices of sourdough or white bread, cut into 1cm cubes, crust on or off
50-60ml olive oil
50g freshly grated Parmesan

Melt the butter in a saucepan; gently cook the leek with a lid on for 2-3 minutes, stirring every so often. Stir in the flour; gradually add the stock to avoid lumps. Bring to the boil; simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the spinach, bring back to the boil, simmer for 3-4 minutes, remove from heat; blend in a liquidiser with the Parmesan until smooth; season.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the croûtons for a few minutes so they colour evenly. Once golden, remove on to some kitchen paper and scatter over the Parmesan; season. Serve immediately with the croûtons scattered on top.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test