I present, “The Vegetable of the Week“: leafy green spinach.
I couldn’t stand the stuff when I was a child – ugh, that pureed frozen stodge, usually heated for ages. But then I discovered that spinach is actually a lovely fresh leafy vegetable….that is, if you only heat it ever so briefly or eat it raw.
Now spinach is one of my favourite veggies, especially for a quick weeknight meal.
This dish, for example, is one of my go-to dinners for busy week days. Usually I take the 30 minutes to cook some dried lentils, but when I am really rushed and starving I just pop open a tin of lentils and have a plate of healthy, comforting food ready in 15 minutes.
By the way, instead of cooking the fish in a fry pan, you can also prepare it en papillotte (wrapped in parchment paper and baked in the oven). Although it took me a few tries to get a feeling for the time the fish needs to cook, I now prefer this method. I’ll share my ‘recipe’ (more like an instruction) for fish en papillotte soon!
And if you like the idea of pairing fish and lentils have a look at this unique and delicious recipe for Tuna with lentils and strawberries (yes! Strawberries.)
(from the blog ‘Dishing up Delights’)
150g lentils – I like using French Lentils, but regular green lentils are great to (or a can of lentils)
optional: ¼ stock cube
optional: 1 bay leaf
2 tbsp fresh parsley
2 tbsp fresh basil
2 tbsp fresh mint (optional)
400g spinach, organic*
1 small shallot (or a ¼ onion)
1 tbs oil
100g cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 fillets of firm white fish like halibut
- If using dried lentils: Rinse the lentils in a sieve. Put in a small saucepan with the water and the stock , bay leaf (if using). Cook according to package instructions (usually: bring to the boil, turn down the heat and cook 30 or so min).
- If using tinned lentils: Rinse the lentils in a sieve. Put in a small saucepan with a tiny bit of water and warm gently whilst preparing the rest of the meal.
- Chop the parsley finely and carefully cut the basil and mint into very fine small ribbons.
- Wash the spinach. Chop the shallot. Cut the tomatoes into halves
- Heat the oil and gently fry the shallot until soft.
- Add the tomato and fry gently, turning them carefully a few times.
- Remove the tomato and shallots on to a plate. (Keep the pan on the stove.)
- Heat a separate pan and cook the fish.
- When the fish is almost done, throw the spinach in the pan you used for the onion and. Move the spinach around just enough for it to wilt.
- Add the chopped herbs and the lemon juice to the lentils and check for pepper and salt.
- Plate up the lentils mixed with the spinach and topped with tomatoes and fish.
Spinach is one of the high pesticide-containing foods, so it’s important to eat organic spinach if you can.
Other recipes using spinach
Some of the health benefits
- This is a very nutrient-dense food. It’s low in calories yet very high in vitamins, minerals. For example:
- Spinach is loaded with flavonoids which act as antioxidants, protecting the body from free radicals. Researchers have discovered at least 13 different flavonoid compounds that act as anti-cancer substances. The various nutrients offer much in the way of disease protection.
- Another of the benefits of spinach is that this is a heart-healthy food. It’s an outstanding source of vitamins C and A which are antioxidants that help reduce free radical amounts in the body. The antioxidants work to keep cholesterol from oxidizing. In addition, folate is good for a healthy cardiovascular system, as well as magnesium, a mineral that helps to lower high blood pressure.
- In comparison to red meat, spinach provides a lot less calories, is fat and cholesterol free, and an excellent source of iron. Because iron is a component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to all body cells, it’s needed for good energy.