Friday, 16 September 2011

"Prize-winning" Spinach

Do they have a category for Spinach at vegetable shows? I suspect not. The Spinach would wilt before anyone got round to judging the entries. Which is perhaps a shame, because I reckon I could win a prize with mine - certainly if size were one of the criteria. Some of my spinach has leaves nearly two feet tall:

The sad fact is though that this year I have hardly eaten any of my Spinach, purely because the Swiss Chard has done well too, and if it's a choice of Chard or Spinach I choose Chard every time. Not only can you use the stems of the Chard as well as the leaves, but also the Chard leaves have a better texture, colour and flavour than the Spinach - it's a little sweeter; maybe you'd say "less acidic"?

 Of course I'm referring to Perpetual Spinach, not true Spinach, which I know is more delicate. I've tried many times to grow the normal Spinach (several varieties), but it never does well in my garden. The best results I have had were with "Mikado F1", an oriental hybrid, but even that wasn't great. It ran to seed very rapidly, despite getting plenty of moisture. Perpetual Spinach is less prone to bolting (but not immune, I hasten to add).

My Perpetual Spinach and Swiss Chard were sown in the Spring (20th March), grew rapidly, and have produced leaves throughout the Summer. Most of them also produced flower-stalks, but I cut these off at the base, and the plants are now producing another batch of young leaves. If I leave the plants in the ground they will probably survive the Winter (though they will inevitably look dead), and may produce another crop of leaves in the early Spring. On the other hand, I may just dig them up and start again!

This year I have had a lot of trouble with leaf-miner insects. They tunnel into the leaves (they love both Spinach and Chard, but also attack my Beetroot and Parsnips), causing unsightly brown patches which soon turn slimy.

My policy on this has been to ignore it, and just choose for the kitchen leaves that have not been affected, which is OK when you have more than enough to meet your needs. Occasionally I pick off the worst-affected leaves, but I suppose that may actually be a bad plan since it may divert attention to the unaffected leaves!

Here's a closeup of the leaf pictured above. You can actually make out a couple of the leaf-miners - caught in the act.

How do you cook your Spinach (do you cook it at all??)
Saag Alu?  Spinach and Ricotta pancakes?  Eggs Florentine? Why not suggest a recipe for me...


  1. I'm afraid I'm not a spinach fan so don't cook it at all - but I guess that wasn't what you meant:)

  2. That's interesting. As I was reading down the page, I was going to ask if you had had any of your chard leaves mined - and then I came to it!

    Early in the season, I thought we would end up eating none. Every single leaf was being turned to paper. I've been picking the affected leaves off and throwing them away - assuming I'm throwing the creatures along with them. Just recently, we are having more leaves to eat for ourselves. It has been disappointing though as we like chard a lot. (Last year, we had rainbow chard-burgers (!) for lunch nearly every day through the season.)

  3. If they did have you'd win hands down Mark!

  4. We do eat our spinach cook and the spinach that I grew this year was wonderful. We just boil ours for a few minutes.

  5. Had a few leaves of spinach with egg, mushroom and tomato on sourdough toast this morning for brekkie. Yum. I like spinach better than chard. if I grew enough of it I'd make spanikopita a favourite of everyone in our family.

  6. Wow, 2 feet long spinach leaves. What do you feed them!
    You may be interested in my "Palak Paneer" recipe, which is about spinach and cottage cheese. It's hugely popular in my part of the world.

  7. Spinach and chard - quick saute in olive oil and garlic. A bit of grated permesan. That is some spectacular foliage!

  8. Spanakopita is a Greek clasic. For a quick version use a pound of puff pastry and the filling is: a pound of raw spinach (or half in half with chard or thinly sliced leek), 1 medium onion or 2-3 spring onions, parsley, dill, 1/2 pound of feta cheese, 2 eggs, olive oil, salt and pepper. Chop the vegetables finely (no need to sautee), add the salt and squeeze them with your hands to wilt, add the eggs beaten, the feta cheese and the pepper. Add the filling between the two layers of puff pastry. Score the top layer and bake at 180C for 3/4h until golden. It shouldn't be too thick (1/2-3/4 of an inch) once baked so you get a good balance of crunchy pastry and filling. I usually make double this recipe for a family of 4 in a big baking pan but in the UK you bake in smaller dishes. Omit the eggs and cheese and you have a veggie version.

    Spanakoryzo: It's a rissoto type dish but with less rice cause the emphasis is on the vegetables. Prepare the vegetables as before, omit eggs and cheese. Sautee all the vegetables and add 100 grs of soup rice and a bit of water only if needed. Let it simmer for 1/2h and when it's cooked add lemon to taste.

    I also got you a post about the greek salad, the argument what to put in,

    Hope you enjoy


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