Mom’s Spinach with Bread Cubes

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this was the way my mother got us to eat our vegetables.  Who can resist salty, garlicky croutons hot out of the skillet–even if they’re buried in sauteed spinach.

I will say that despite my efforts as a kid to eat around the spinach, I unwittingly ended up eating a good deal of spinach.  Now, of course, I love spinach, and the bread cubes make it all the more delicious.

This may be made with fresh or frozen spinach.  The important thing about spinach is that it must be boiled then squeezed well.  I’ve tried the packages of spinach that direct you to simply microwave the leaves then “drain and saute”.  

There are no shortcuts to good sauteed spinach.  It must be boiled in plenty of salted water–not just wilted in the skillet.  It must be squeezed by hand–tightly–until no more water remains.  This will rid the spinach of the iron-y aftertaste that is a natural part of spinach.  Only after this process, can you saute the leaves without the aftertaste of iron.

This time of year, when spinach is at its peak, I consider this process a worthwhile endeavor.  The spinach leaves are sturdy and bright green, and make a beautiful side dish.

Mom’s Spinach and Bread Cubes

serves 4

2 lbs fresh spinach leaves, roots removed, but stems left intact–washed well and drained.

1 1/2 c fresh bread cubes

4 garlic cloves, sliced

1/4 c olive oil

1/2 c chicken broth

salt and pepper to taste

Drop spinach leaves (in batches if necessary) into salted boiling water and blanch for about 3 minutes (after water returns to boil).  Drain and rinse with cold water.

Take handfuls of spinach and squeeze tightly between both hands.  Set aside balls of squeezed spinach and cover with a damp towel until ready to use.  May be made to this point several hours ahead.

When ready to saute, chop the balls coarsely  and spread out on board to loosen the bundles.

Brown garlic in olive oil until slightly golden.  Add bread cubes and saute for a minute.

Add spinach and chicken broth and continue sauteing for another 2 – 3 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper.


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