Lighter fare is in season every summer. Salads may dominate menus, while vegetable-rich side dishes can dress up barbecues, brunches or outdoor buffet meals.
Spinach not only packs a nutritional punch, it can add flavor to any dish. According to Judy Joo, a French-trained Korean American chef and author of Judy Joo’s Korean Soul Food (White Lion Publishing), mature spinach has a heartier, meatier texture than its baby variety. Mature spinach is the star of the show in this recipe for “Seasoned Spinach,” a nutritious side dish with a delicious dressing.
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 pound mature spinach with stem and roots
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon spring onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon sagwa-shikcho (Korean apple vinegar)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
Black pepper, freshly ground
- Fill a large saucepan with water, salt well and bring to a boil. In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath.
- Rinse the spinach with cold water to remove any dirt, especially around the roots. Remove any hairs from the roots. Cut the spinach into 1¾-inch-long pieces, keeping the purple roots intact. Split the roots in half horizontally and keep separately.
- In a medium bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
- Blanch the spinach in two separate batches. In the boiling salt water, blanch the spinach stems with leaves until just wilted, about 1 minute, remove the spinach from the water and plunge in the ice bath. Repeat with the spinach stems with roots, but cook for 1 to 2 minutes before plunging into the ice bath. Remove from the ice bath, drain well and gently squeeze out any excess water.
- Gently loosen the clumps of spinach with your fingers and transfer to a bowl. Toss well with the dressing. Cover and chill for about an hour to allow the flavors to mellow before serving.