Spinach
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Scientific Classification

Kingdom:
Plantae
Division:
Magnoliophyta
Class:
Magnoliopsida
Order:
Caryophyllales
Family:
Amaranthaceae formerly Chenopodiaceae[8]
Genus:
Spinacia
Species:
S. oleracea
Binomial name
Spinacia oleracea
L.
About
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is an edible flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant (rarely biennial), which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions.
Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (modern Iran). Arab traders carried spinach into India, and then the plant was introduced to China. The earliest record of spinach is in Chinese, stating that it was introduced into China from Nepal (probably in 647 AD). [2]
In AD 827, the Saracens introduced spinach to Sicily. The first written evidence of spinach in the Mediterranean are in three tenth-century works, the medical work by al-Razi (known as Rhazes in the West) and in two agricultural treatises, one by Ibn Wahshiya and the other by Qustus al-Rumi. Spinach became a popular vegetable in the Arab Mediterranean and arrived in Spain by the latter part of the twelfth century where the great Arab agronomist Ibn al-‘Awwam called it the “captain of leafy greens.” Spinach was also the subject of a special treatise in the eleventh century by Ibn Hajjaj. [3]
The prickly-seeded form of spinach was known in Germany by no later than the 13th century, though the smooth-seeded form was not described till 1552. (It is the smooth-seeded form that is used in modern commercial production). [4]
Spinach first appeared in England and France in the 14th century, probably via Spain, and it gained quick popularity because it appeared in early spring, when other vegetables were scarce and when Lenten dietary restrictions discouraged consumption of other foods. Spinach is mentioned in the first known English cookbook, The Forme of Cury (1390) where it is referred to as spinnedge and/or spynoches. [5] Smooth-seeded spinach was described in 1552. [6]
In 1533, Catherine de’Medici became queen of France; she so fancied spinach that she insisted it be served at every meal. To this day, dishes made with spinach are known as “Florentine” because Catherine came from Florence, Italy. [7] Because spinach was then regarded as having high iron content, wine fortified with spinach juice was used to treat French soldiers weakened by hemorrhage [8]
There are three basic types of spinach:
Savoy has dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. It is the type sold in fresh bunches in most supermarkets. One heirloom variety of savoy is Bloomsdale, which is somewhat resistant to bolting.
Flat/smooth leaf spinach has broad smooth leaves that are easier to clean than savoy. This type is often grown for canned and frozen spinach, as well as soups, baby foods, and processed foods.
Semi-savoy is a hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves. It has the same texture as savoy, but it is not as difficult to clean. It is grown for both fresh market and processing. Five Star is a widely grown variety and has good resistance to running up to seed.
Nutritional Value

Spinach, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy
97 kJ (23 kcal)
Carbohydrates
3.6 g
Sugars
0.4 g
Dietary fiber
2.2 g
Fat
0.4 g
Protein
2.2 g
Vitamin A equiv.
469 μg (52%)
Vitamin A
9400 IU
– beta-carotene
5626 μg (52%)
– lutein and zeaxanthin
12198 μg
Folate (Vit. B9)
194 μg (49%)
Vitamin C
28 mg (47%)
Vitamin E
2 mg (13%)
Vitamin K
483 μg (460%)
Calcium
99 mg (10%)
Iron
2.7 mg (22%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Growing
The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to triangular-based, very variable in size from about 2-30 cm long and 1-15 cm broad, with larger leaves at the base of the plant and small leaves higher on the flowering stem. The flowers are inconspicuous, yellow-green, 3-4 mm diameter, maturing into a small, hard, dry, lumpy fruit cluster 5-10 mm across containing several seeds.
Recipes

Asian Vinaigrette Salad w/ Sesame Tuna or Chicken or Tofu [serves 4]
Submitted by Melanie Lorenz
Salad
Arugula [torn] 1 cup +
Carrot [shredded] 2 large carrots
Cucumber [diced] 1 large
Lettuce [torn] 1 cup +
Peppers, Red [julienne] 1
Radish [sliced] 4 or so
Spinach [torn] 1 cup +
Spring Onions [Green] [chopped] 4 or so
Garnish
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
Dressing
Chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime
2 T sesame oil, separated in 1/2, 1/2 reserved for protein
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 c rice wine vinegar
pinch of freshly grated ginger
2 t brown sugar
1 T spicy mustard
2 pinches of garlic powder
salt/pepper to taste
1 T soy sauce
To make the dressing mix all ingredients EXCEPT oil, once everything is mixed add oil, and stir vigorously to emulsify, add seasoning to taste, I like to add red pepper flakes for a bit of spice!
Protein
4 [4-6 oz] chicken breast filets, OR tuna steaks, OR firm tofu slabs/chunks
Sesame Seeds [toasted or black]
Brush protein with sesame oil, salt and pepper, and roll in sesame seeds. [Tofu, you may want to just sprinkle seeds on salad later, up to you.]
Spray a pan with non cook spray and cook on medium heat until desired done-ness.
Layer the salad vegetables, add the protein and garnish, stir dressing again, and pour over a couple tablespoons.
Gluten Free Spinach and Feta Mostaccioli
Submitted by Louisa Wright
Ingredients
16 oz. pkg of mostaccioli or penne pasta (rice pasta for gluten free)
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 c. chopped tomatoes
2 bunches of spinach, chopped
½ c. green onions
3 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz. pkg of Feta cheese
Directions
1.Cook pasta according to directions and drain.
2.Mix in oil, tomatoes, spinach and onions.
3.Cook over medium heat and stir for 2 minutes until spinach is limp.
4.Add Feta and cook for 1 more minute.
Serves 6.