Fresh Spinach (soggy) - what am I doing wrong?
Ok – so oddly as a child I really liked spinach. Actually ate the chopped frozen stuff mom used to serve. Somewhere in my teens I decided spinach was evil and gave up all forms no dips, no salads and nothing Florentine. This past April while on a cruise one of my dinner entrees came with a small stack of spinach artfully placed on my (fish) I believe. I decided what the heck – you’re on vacation, you didn’t “pay” for the spinach give it a try. Well – I really liked it. I almost want to say it was almost crisp. It wasn’t fried as I once worked in a restaurant that served a pizza topped with fried spinach and this didn't look like this. Since our return home I have made multiple attempts at fixing some form of sautéed spinach that was not soggy with no success. I have tried bagged, baby, prewashed spinach. I have bought spinach bunches washed multiple times, spun dry in my salad spinner and then pat dry in a tea towel. My cooking method has been to place a small amount of oil or butter in a pretty hot non stick pan and quickly sauté. But each attempt has just tasted soggy and quite frankly too spinachy (I know, not really a word).
Any suggestions on how I can prepare cooked spinach without ending up with a soggy pile of greens? I need more vegetables in my rotation and spinach is readily available so I really would like to make a go of it.
I buy the big bags of spinach from Costco and blanch the contents in the biggest pot that I own (20 qt., I think) of boiling water. Almost immediately the color of the leaves changes, so I pour the whole thing into a big strainer in the sink and run cold water over the spinach to stop the cooking. Grab a handful and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Repeat until all the spinach is squeezed. What you do now is up to you. I coarsely chop it, divide it into three portions, and freeze it for later use, though it is ready for use right then. Sauté it as you normally would. It will not be all wet and the oxalic acid will be tamed.
I cannot imagine crisp spinach unless it has been deep fried.....but the trick commercial chefs use is to simply wilt the spinach to reduce the risk of making it release too much water from over cooking the spinach itself. To give flavor to the overall spinach dish, the aromatics like garlic are first sauteed in the oil, then the spinach is added. Also, consider not salting the spinach while cooking, as this also releases the water in vegetables. If your finished spinach has too much liquid to your liking...add some bread crumbs to absorb it and you will not waste the nutrients from the liquid.
I don't know how it got crisp, but if it's soggy, try squeezing it. Whenever I buy chopped fresh spinach, I thaw in the microwave, squeeze out all the water, and then saute with a little olive oil or garlic. It does lose a lot of nutrients by squeezing, but I can't stand the taste or texture of soggy, slimy spinach.
Use bunch spinach.
Rinse very well in cold water.
Bring a pot of water or beef broth to a full boil.
Drop the spinach into the boiling water/broth and remove at about 30 seconds.
Rinse immediately in cold water.
Squeeze out excess moisture.
This will leave the spinach with the fresh crisp texture.
Finish by drizzling with sesame oil, warm butter, meat drippings, etc.