Hello and welcome to my new show! It's called "I Hate Raw Spinach And Most People Cook It Incorrectly!" Riveting, right? Now I know this seems hyper-specific and overgeneralized but I firmly believe that many of you are unknowingly doing it wrong, getting mediocre results, and thus, depriving yourself of the silky delight that is properly cooked spinach. Popeye agrees.
Let's talk about my dramatic feelings for a moment. Where are they coming from? Well, I'll tell you. From watery spinach. Over-salted spinach. Bland spinach. And they are especially coming from spinach that has been cooked to death. Spinach that has been deprived of the spotlight for too long, glossed over in the last 7 years. Replaced with kale, arugula, and other ~fancy~ greens. But alas, I'm here to tell you that properly sautéed spinach is truly a delight.
Cooking baby spinach leaves takes 2 minutes, tops. I am not making that number up. High heat. Hot pan. Lots of spinach because lord knows that a giant box of greens wilts down into a measly cup, if you're lucky. Razor thin garlic that is sweet and soft. Loads of lemon zest. Let's goooo!
I have a few secrets I want to share with you regarding both the garlic, and the lemon, and if you keep reading you'll be rewarded with the best recipe for sautéed spinach with lemon and garlic. So read on, lovers of green things. This one's a keeper.
WHAT KIND OF SPINACH DO YOU RECOMMEND USING?
Whatever is local, fresh, seasonal, and good-lookin'! I personally prefer baby spinach.
CAN I USE KALE/CHARD/OTHER GREENS INSTEAD?
You can absolutely use whatever greens are seasonal, just make sure that you adjust the recipe cooking time. Baby spinach cooks extremely fast- I'm talking like 2 minutes fast- whereas kale or chard or other firmer greens will take a longer time to soften. Keep the recipe the same, but cook tougher greens for 5-10 minutes longer on a medium-high heat.
WHY DON'T YOU CHOP GARLIC FOR THIS RECIPE?
Chopped garlic cooks at lightening speed, and often times ends up 1) sticking to the bottom of the pan and then 2) burning. For those reasons, I find that slicing garlic razor thin for this recipe works really well. It gets just a little bit soft and a super fragrant, and adds nice texture to the smooth spinach. You can do this (carefully) with a very sharp knife or a mandolin. Look for fat cloves of garlic, they are easier to slice.
WHY DO YOU USE LEMON ZEST INSTEAD OF LEMON JUICE TO THE?
Spinach is very watery as is, and adding lemon juice just creates way too much liquid, in my honest opinion. It dilutes the flavor of the garlic and idk, just doesn't jive for me. I prefer zesting a whole lemon, and then allowing that to perfume the spinach. It works well because it adds TONS of flavor without adding any moisture. I am willing to bet you'll find the taste lemony enough, but if you want more, you can always add a squeeze of fresh juice once you're serving the greens.
WHY DO YOU ADD CHILI FLAKES?
They are optional but I simply adore the warmth they bring to the table for this dish. It's soooo good to have that balance of sour (lemon), sharp (garlic) and warm (chili) flavors. Aleppo chili is lovely, as are these smoked red chili flakes. Any flakes you like will do!Print
A super fast recipe for spinach that is quickly cooked in a pan with razor-thin garlic slices and lemon zest, then finished with chili flakes.
1 lb. baby spinach
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 fat cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons lemon zest, from approximately 2 small lemons
½ tsp kosher salt
pinch of Aleppo or red chili flakes, optional
- It is very important to get all of your ingredients together before you warm up your pan. Slice your garlic razor thin and zest the lemons. Set those ingredients aside.
- Bring a large pot or pan to a medium-high heat. Add olive oil.
- Once the oil is hot, add sliced garlic and lemon zest. Stir with a spoon or silicone spatula, coating the garlic in oil and spreading it out in the pan.
- After about two minutes, or once you see the garlic starting to brown (and you can smell the lemon) add the spinach
- Vigorously scrape the bottom of the pan, removing the garlic from the bottom and coating the spinach in the oil. The goal here is not to let the garlic and lemon burn by tossing them with the greens.
- Don't walk away, just stir until almost all the spinach is done. When you see mostly wilted greens with a few full leaves still straggling, turn the heat off. Stir for 20-30 more seconds. Press the spinach to the walls of your pan, trying to squeeze out any excess moisture. If water/juice comes out, just tip the pan over the sink and pour it out. Then plate your spinach.
- Top with a pinch of chili flakes, and a squeeze of lemon juice if you'd like. You can also add a little flaky salt and a turn or two of pepper.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Sides
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: spinach, baby spinach, sauteed spinach, how to cook spinach, cooking spinach, greens, vegan, vegan recipes, vegan food, vegetarian recipes, sides
On a green kick? Why not try my Kale Caesar salad next? It's creamy, loaded with umami, cheesy, and just oh-so-very-delicious.