Monday, July 30, 2012

Strong as Popeye

If spinach helped Popeye become a strong sailor man, it definitely is beneficial to the rest of us! 

When I'm trying to figure out what I would like to cook next, I try to revolve it around one ingredient that I can buy in a bigger quantity and use in multiple recipes. Last night, that super ingredient was spinach! 

I love spinach. Its beautiful earthy green leaves are versatile for both a bed of fresh salad or cooked down into in a savory dinner dish. It's funny how so much fresh spinach can cook down to about half of the original amount. Either way, spinach packs a nutritious punch of vitamins and minerals. 

This luscious leafy green vegetable is a wonderful source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, iron and magnesium. Eating just a little monounsaturated fat (the fat in olive oil and salmon) with your spinach will help the body's absorption and use of vitamin A. How else do you think that Olive Oil helped Popeye become so strong and healthy? 
I used spinach in the creation of 2 meals: the Popeye Special and a Baked Potato Salad

Popeye Special (left) and Baked Potato Salad (right)

Baked Potato Salad
2 1/2 lb sm red potatoes, quartered
2 C fresh green beans, about 1 to 2" cuts
1/2 red pepper, thin slices
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups fresh spinach

Total time: about 60 minutes (including prep work)
Heat oven to 425 degrees. 

In large bowl, mix potatoes, green beans, red pepper, olive oil, oregano, garlic salt and black pepper. Place on greased large baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. 

Remove baking sheet from oven. Gently mix in spinach on baking sheet using a spatula or large spoon. Place in the oven for another 15 minutes. 

This Baked Potato Salad retained a fresh, garden taste while baking in the oven. The heat left the vegetables with a nice crisp texture without blackening them or leaving them with a burnt taste. The next time I make this dish, I may try to replace the fresh oregano with fresh rosemary for a different herbal taste. 
Popeye Special
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 med red pepper
1/2 C celery, chopped
6 sm green onions, chopped
8 oz fresh spinach
1 tsp fresh oregano
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
6 eggs, lightly beaten

Total time: about 25 minutes (including prep work)
In frying pan over medium heat, add ground beef and mushrooms. Cook until the ground beef is no longer pink. Drain excess beef juices. 

Add red pepper, celery, green onions, spinach, oregano, garlic salt and pepper to the pan with beef and mushroom mixture. Cook until all ingredients are equally mixed and spinach is beginning to wilt, about 1 to 3 minutes. 

Add lightly beaten eggs to the frying pan. Gently cover and mix in eggs to the ingredients in the pan. Let mixture sit until eggs solidify. Flip mixture occasionally using a spatula to cook all of the eggs. 

I think this recipe would be fantastic as a hearty breakfast or a quick dinner. The recipe originally did not call for oregano, but I added it because the flavor seemed a little bland without it. The next time I make this recipe, I may venture out to try different vegetables since this recipe seems fairly versatile. 

Before last night, I had no idea how to chop a green onion, but this video was extremely helpful:

For both of these recipes, I used bagged spinach (which can be found near the bagged lettuce). Using bagged spinach took out some of the prep time for each recipe if I had used a head of spinach, but both options are fresh and recommended over canned spinach any day. 

Steve was my only guinea pig for these dishes (as he will probably be for a majority of them...what a lucky guy!) as well as trying them myself. While he usually doesn't like mushrooms or peppers, he had no complaints about either in these dishes (and he wasn't just being nice!). He suggested that if he were a kid, these would be good recipes to get him to eat his vegetables. Overall, these 2 dishes were successful and made plenty for leftovers for lunches for a couple days. 

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