How to Cook Fresh Spinach in the Microwave

'Fresh spinach' photo (c) 2010, Theresa Carpenter - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/I love to write about vegetables everyone hates. I’ve been getting latest favorite, spinach, nearly every week. Spinach has a reputation for being very healthy, and  contains large amounts of iron and calcium. Unfortunately, spinach also contains oxalate, which prevents you from absorbing much of those minerals. The good news is that spinach also contains plenty of folate, also known as folic acid or Vitamin B9. Lack of folate during pregnancy is associated with risk of the baby developing spina bifida.

Like all green vegetables, spinach tastes best when you eat it as soon as you get it home from the store or market. Once it starts to decay, it loses flavor quickly, so I cook it and store it in the refrigerator to add to various recipes. Cooking it also removes some of the bitterness.

Preparing the raw spinach for cooking can be time-consuming. I plunge the leaves into water for a minute or two, then check the water for dirt or insects. It’s not uncommon to find a snail. Then I sort through the leaves one by one, removing tough stalks and checking for brown spots. I rinse once more and place the spinach in a colander. Save the washing water for watering plants.

Spinach is one of those foods that is perfect for the microwave.

Instructions for Cooking Spinach

  1. Soak, rinse and inspect leaves as described above. Remove tough stalks.
  2. Take the spinach, which should still be wet, and place it in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl. I prefer to use a glass or ceramic dinner plate. Unless the spinach has dried, don’t add additional water.
  3. Cook on HIGH until all of the leaves are dark green (but not brown).  Start with 3 minutes for a small package and 7 for a larger one. Check and add cooking time if needed.
  4. When cool, store the spinach and liquid in a plastic container. Or you can chop it finely. It will keep for several days. If you have too much, put some in the freezer.
  5. Use in your favorite dish. Some recipes call for squeezing the moisture out of the spinach. If you do this, save the green water for soup or other cooking needs.
If you don’t have a microwave, you can steam spinach on top of the stove using a steamer or a double boiler. Boiling spinach directly in water will destroy most of the folic acid, and you’ll lose flavor as well.

Once I have the cooked spinach handy, I put it on top of pasta, rice or pizza, or layer it into quiche or lasagna. If I want all of the children to eat it, I chop it and add it to soup.

Do you prepare fresh spinach at home? What’s your favorite spinach recipe?

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