In the world of observances and holidays, today is Fresh Spinach Day 2021, and since today’s observance ties in with the overall theme of this blog, I’m making an exception and doing two posts today instead of the one I limit myself to posting. This way, I’m not overloading you with stuff to read, and I’m (hopefully!) making it easier for you to play catch-up if you miss a day or whatever.
When you hear talk of spinach, what comes up for you? Is it the stuff commonly depicted in media as industrial slop served coast to coast in school lunches? Or is it the episode of Arthur where D.W. goes apeshit when she finds out something she liked had spinach in it, and she didn’t like spinach in the way she was used to having it? Or Popeye?
For me, spinach was something that was never in our house as a kid. Never. I don’t remember ever seeing a can of it anywhere, and definitely not a bag of it from the produce aisle either. No boxes (or bags) of the frozen stuff either.
I believe it was in high school when I first tried spinach. Late high school, probably. There was a sale going on for the bagged salads and lettuce blends, and the bags of fresh spinach counted as part of the promo going on.
When we got home, and started putting stuff away, I picked up one of the salad bags, opened it, and found out it was the spinach. I reached into the bag like it was a bag of chips (or crisps if you’re reading this from across the pond), and ate some of it.
Hey, this is really good! It had this green, fresh taste to it, if that makes sense. Seriously, it was a taste that really said summer to me. Between you and me, I wonder if there’s a candle out there in the scent of fresh spinach.
In case anyone’s wondering, I remember eating the whole bag, without any dressing of any kind. Tbh, I feel like dressing would’ve taken away from the fresh spinach taste anyway.
Over the years, spinach became something I liked. I didn’t always have it in the house until later on, but I definitely never said no to something that had spinach in it, like spanakopita.
Before I lost the weight, in my search for spinach recipes, I came across this spinach, artichoke, and mozzarella dip. It didn’t take me long before I memorized that recipe, along with the cold variation of it. (I also fell in love with the double cheese and sweet onion dip too, btw.) I had come out of a difficult season in my life, and at that time, I was in the process of moving forward from what happened, as well as some later incidents as a result of it.
In spite of that difficult season, I remember being up late at night, with the house to myself, and country music playing on the radio I had in the kitchen on the highest shelf I was able to reach by the stove. That was one of the few times I was able to pick up the classic country AM station from several towns away. I remember making that spinach, artichoke, and mozzarella dip on summer nights, the only light on in the house being in the kitchen. Being the spice fan I am, I’d always add extra cayenne and hot pepper flakes, at the same time if I had both in the house, haha. I remember the way the no-see-ems would beat up against the rusty century-old metal screens on the windows, and the way the house would smell of that dip. The house had no A/C beyond a window unit in the bedrooms, so I had to open the one window I was able to in order to let some air in.
In the dead of summer, that kitchen got up to about 110-120 degrees, especially with the original 1940s apartment stove that was in there before we replaced it with a gas/electric version. For those of you who measure temperature in Celsius instead of the Fahrenheit we do here in the U.S., that would be the upper 40s.
At that time, it wasn’t out of the norm for me to eat that whole recipe in two days. Half tonight, half tomorrow.
Same with Aarti’s smoky spinach artichoke dip. I had some whole coriander seeds knocking around in the kitchen, and it was finally nice to find some recipe to use ’em in.
As I moved forward in my weight loss this time around, and learning that yes, my beloved spinach artichoke dips still worked for the high protein, low-carb approach, I slowly started re-introducing them into my menu.
They were every bit as good as I remembered them being. Only this time around, I had way less of them at once. I also found that instead of baking a whole pie or casserole dish’s worth of it, it was easier to make the whole recipe, and store it in one of those clamp jars. This way, I could scoop out a small portion of it and nuke it in the microwave.
I also found this variation for jalapeno poppers during my stroll down spinach dip memory lane that I may have to try sometime with another batch.
On top of my spinach dip rotation, another way I fell in love with it was wilted up in my 1960s Lodge cast-iron skillet in the style of a stir-fry whenever there was a sale for the fresh stuff at the store. That, I had throughout my weight loss mission, so that was one less change to make, haha.
Before the move, I made this spanakopita dip I linked to in a previous Friday weekend docket post some time back. Right now, I’ve got a batch of spinach dip in the fridge, and since I used up the can of artichokes I had in the pantry for the last one I made, I decided I’d try it with sliced up baby corn this time around. It’s a strange combination, I can say that for sure, but it works.
Over to you, readers. Are you a fan of spinach? If so, how do you like it? What was your way into it? Got a favorite spinach recipe to share? Drop it like it’s hot, and let’s make it a post Popeye would totally live for.