It is almost certain that spinach originated in Asia, but it is not clear whether it came from the Caucasus, Afghanistan, or Persia. The Greeks and Romans were not familiar with it.
It was probably introduced to Spain by the Arabs in the 10th century. Its name esbanach or sebanach came from the Persian isbany.
Grown in Seville and Sicily in the 11th century, it appeared in Britain three centuries later. It goes by the name of spynoches in the first known English cook book.
Spinach was introduced in France by the Crusaders and was soon grown in the monasteries and family vegetable gardens. Mainly eaten during Lent, it soon became known as in France as the herbe de carême (Lenten greens). It is first mentioned in the Ménagier de Paris (c. 1393) in pies and omelets with greens.
It was raised to the ranks of nobility during the Renaissance, under the patronage of Catherine de Médicis. Dishes known as Florentine or alla Fiorentina, garnished with spinach, have their origins with her.
It is not known exactly when it arrived in the Americas, but it was probably in the 19th century. But its popularity was boosted in 1928, thanks to Dave-Max Fleisher, the creator of Popeye.
Spinach leaves should always be very firm and deep, shiny green. Those that are yellowing and/or crumpled should be discarded immediately. The stalks should also be firm, without splitting or blemishes.
Fresh: by weight.
Frozen: leaf spinach (whole leaves up to 10cm); chopped spinach (finely chopped leaves in 10–20 mm pieces); shredded spinach (finely chopped leaves in 3–10 mm pieces); spinach puree (leaves finely chopped or processed, less than 3 mm).
Preserved: in a can or jar, whole leaves, shredded, or puree.
Spinach must be washed carefully in abundant water, without soaking, so as not to diminish its vitamins. The stalks should be removed immediately afterwards.
It is It is blanched, then refreshed and pressed. It can also be braised in its own liquid.
It can be served in many ways: à la crème; as a garnish for white meat, poultry, or fish; as a puree (in the making of fresh pasta to add color), as a binder for stuffing, au gratin, in tarts and pies, and in chlorophyll jus.
Spinach shoots can be sautéed or stir-fried with olive oil using a fork pierced with a clove of garlic. It can also be used raw, in a salad.
Up to three days in a cool place. In a container covered with a damp cloth, without piling.
Spinach has an exceptional antioxidant carotenoid content. It is also very high in minerals (including iron), B group vitamins, vitamin C, and fiber. Its high fiber content made it renowned in the Middle Ages as the "intestinal broom".
But this vegetable also has a high amount of nitrates, which are transformed into toxic nitrites during storage.This is why it is best to cook it as soon as possible.Frozen spinach has a lower nitrate content than fresh leaves because it is blanched immediately after harvesting.
Spinach also contains a lot of oxalic acid: this is not recommended for people suffering from kidney stones or gout.
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