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And standing in for the raw spinach is...?

  • Deenso Sep 26, 2006 01:18 PM
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In a couple of weeks, we're having a dinner party using a complete menu for a "Tuscan Feast" that I got from Fine Cooking's August/September issue. From start to finish: bruschetta with herbed tomatoes; Tuscan grilled chicken, sausage & sage skewers; toasted pasta with grilled & marinated red peppers & zucchini; spinach & grilled radicchio salad; grilled fresh figs with ice cream & honey.

Now I'm trying to figure out what to substitute for the spinach with grilled radicchio. Basically, the radicchio is brushed with olive oil and salted, then lightly browned/charred on the grill. You let it cool for a couple of minutes, chop it up and toss it with spinach and some shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, then dress the salad with olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar. Would arugula be a good stand-in? Any other thoughts?

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  1. How about Mache? It has a milder flavor than arugala.

    1. I wouldn't use arugula as a substitute. It's much more assertive than spinach. I think most mild salad greens would do. Or if you're not in the Salinas valley, you could look for locally grown spinach from a farmers market?

      1. Last week I was cooking a dish that calls for fresh spinach. Even though the spinach I was looking at in the store was locally grown and not packed in a plastic bag, and I knew there was next to no chance it was dangerous to eat, I couldn't bring myself to buy it.

        I substituted chard. The recipe came out great.

        1. How about skipping the radichio altogether and going with sauteed broccoli rabe (rapini) as a side? The slightly bitter taste will approximate what the radichio was trying to do in your menu. My favorite prep for rabe is to blanch the leaves and stems for a couple of minutes, drain well and squeeze out ecxess moisture, and sautee in a good glug of olive oil with garlic and some red pepper flakes. Do as the Italians do and cook it to death. This is not an al dente veggie. yum.

          1. Or you could source out your local farmers market and buy some organic, loose spinach, which is perfectly safe to eat.
            If you go to the farmers markets and talk with the farmers, they will explain how their crop is not contaminated. They will also probably tell you how frustrated they are by the ridiculous media scare, which is hurting their sales and turning a lot of lovingly raised produce into nothing but feed for their stock.

            1. How about just using raw spinach? Can you not buy it anymore? I still buy it, as long as it's from Canada. The world's ENTIRE crop of spinach has not been tainted with e.coli.

              1. That is exactly right (coming from a farmer's daughter). My dad has told me 100 times not to eat any bagged produce (lettuce, spinach, carrots,etc.). I try to always buy fresh and local. I would be OK with local raw spinach from a grower I trust, but if you don't have someone like that, with grilled radicchio I would substitute mache or a mesclun mix. But not bagged! Arugula is very strong, but if you want something assertive it would be OK.