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.
What did the stack look like? Did it looked like it was formed into a round? The trick with spinach is the water. If you get a big ass pan and put just a little bit of water in the bottom of the pan, bring it to the boil, then toss in your huge pile of spinach while turning it in the water. You don't need a full pot of boiling water this is just more water you have to remove later. You just need enough to cover the bottom of the pan pretty much. Just keep turning it and everything will quickly cook. This should quickly cook all of your spinach. Next strain it and push out as much water with a wooden spoon. Next lay out the spinach on a board and get every bit of water you can out of it with paper towels. I squeeze it into a little loaf and just keep squeezing until i can hardly get any water out. Now you can use it however you like, it will not be soggy.
I see you left this in 2009 so you've probably moved on, but I had the problem of soggy spinach also. It is because you didn't fry it long enough. You simply fry it until the water is gone. I liked fried spinach but it doesn't leave me with that feeling that i've eaten something healthy. I, too, aren't a big vegetable eater; so I bought a juicer at Wal-mart for about $40. Every morning I juice 2 apples, 2 carrots and a fist full of something green like spinach or brocolli or whatever I have. The apples cover all other tastes. That way I have what I need for a good fruit and vegetable balance. Hope this helps
Not quite sure what you mean by crisp, but if you're talking about just plain cooked (not deep fried) spinach that has a little "texture" still left in it I'd say all you have to do is save any added butter or oil until the end.
Here's what I've done to convert more than one "I hate cooked spinach" people.......
Dump a bag of fresh spinach (if rinsed, just remove excess water, but no need to get anal about it) in a high sided stock pot or similar pot.... not only do you need the extra room to toss it around, but I think the steam rising and then falling back down helps the process. (which is why I don't use a wok for this) ... Put the pot on a cold burner and set to high. In under a minute, with almost constant tossing with tongs you'll have spinach that has released it's moisture and has wilted slightly but still looks slightly under done. Remove from heat, throw in a pad of butter, and by the time you have the plates ready for serving, the spinach will be ready to serve.
PS - Full leaf spinach works best, but baby leaf works too if you're fast enough during the tossing stage.