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Spinach - Versatile!

March 11

Years ago before I ever had spinach in my garden, a friend of ours brought me a wonderfully large bunch of spinach that her Dad had grown.  Looking back, it definitely had to be savoy since it was dark green and had heavily crinkled,  curly leaves. So much so in fact that I thought I would never get the sand out of it in spite of repeated washings and I probably didn’t because I remember distinctly biting down on several pieces of grit   — very unappetizing — even though I love spinach.

The other thing I remember vividly although its been about 20 years ago – the leaves were huge!  I guess the spinach was fully matured.  Lettuce and spinach are two things that never reach maturity in my garden. They are just tootasty for me to leave them alone.  I start grazing them the minute the leaves reach 1 1/2 to 2 inches and I keep that up for months until they bolt in hot weather.

The season for abundant fresh spinach is short – about 2 months in spring and 1 or 2 months in the fall.Granted, my spinach that I planted last fall gave me some salads this winter, and is starting to look “pickable” again with the increased daylight and temperatures.  But I want ABUNDANCE, folks! And besides – you know how it cooks down when preparing for use in a recipe.

To help insure that abundance, I have already put in the first of half-dozen successive plantings. I raise smooth leaf and semi-savoy. I find them easy to clean.  My mulched beds keep things relatively clean or at least much cleaner than a bare ground garden, so I would probably be all right with savoy as well.

When spinach is abundant I fix one of the most simple and delicious of recipes every chance I have:
*Heat olive oil in skillet on medium heat.
*Add crushed or chopped garlic and saute about one minute. (Do not let it burn or get too brown.)
*Add spinach and turn with spatula a couple of times to coat it with the oil and garlic.  Cover for about 1 minute. Turn. Cover just a bit longer until completely wilted.
*Add a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Use baby spinach in various combinations with other fruits and vegetables for a salad.  Its out of this world with pasta as well. Because of its versatility it is used in dozens and dozens of main dish, side dish, and appetizer recipes.

One of our favorite salad treats is Spinach and Strawberries — fresh from the garden topped with a poppy/sesame seed dressing.  As soon as the strawberries and spinach are ready I’ll have the recipe and pictures of our first delicious treat for the season.

There is nothing like fresh spinach.  I hope you have yours in the ground already, but if you don’t there is still time.

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