Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Veg In Focus: Spinach

Picture the scene if you will. Dark green blob presented on the plates of the children. It's rubbery, flat, overcooked, and half water. In fact the spinach water will invade everything else on your plate. 'But Kieran likes it,' yes, but Kieran eats the vital organs of sheep (I know, eww) so he is used to something that tastes of nothing but iron and water.

Dark, heavy and unbelievably strong. That's what I thought of spinach as a child. Then I learned to experience the delicate, sublime taste of it. It's perfect paring with tomatoes, with potatoes, with spices. Cooked or raw it can - and should -taste fantastic.

This winter I was bloody well craving it. I was desperate for the time when it would reappear in the box. I'm actually hoping to grow it year round myself, banking on the coastal climate and - if worst comes to worst -my kitchen windowsill to keep me from spinach deprivation in the winter.

I actually don't grow true spinach. Easy to bolt was the warning of my gardening books and we've had a hell of a year for bolting anyway. It was imposable to grow a lettuce past may. I grow spinach beet which is a relative of Chard but has a more delicate taste. It's not as delicate as true spinach but there isn't much in it.

It's very easy to grow and seems somewhat of a darling of growers. Grocer stalls on Newton Abbot market were selling it sticking out of vases last time we went and it comes in our Riverford box as often as the true kind. As it's easy to grow and tastes fantastic I'm not one to complain. These shots are of it growing round our balcony.

And what do you do with it once it has grown? Well repeat offenders in my kitchen include spinach curry, spinach and cilantro coriander grilled tortillas, and these spinach and potato squares.

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