Nutritious, good and healthy: let’s discover spinach and their variants

baby spinach

Nutritious, good and healthy: let’s discover spinach and their variants

Spinach is one of the best known and most widespread food plants in the world. As they are rich in nutrients, they are considered an energizing food. To be tasted cooked or raw, they are widely used in the kitchen as they are extremely versatile: they can be used as the main element or to give even more flavor to dishes. Let’s find out everything there is to know about spinach.

Spinach: varieties, history, characteristics and curiosities

Spinach, or Spinacia oleracea, are vegetables that belong to the Chenopodiacee family, like chard. Very widespread and used in cooking, they have been classified in the IV fundamental group, because they are rich in vitamin A. In Italy, the cultivation of spinach is widespread above all in Campania, as in the case of Altamura OP, Puglia, Marche, Lazio, Tuscany, Veneto and Piedmont, and can take place all year round. The size and texture of the bright green leaves depends on the cut, which allows for different classifications. It is possible, for example, to distinguish between adult spinach and baby spinach. The latter, in fact, are a variant of spinach harvested when the leaves are still small, resulting more tender and delicate in taste.

The history of spinach: from Persia to Popeye

Already known in ancient times, Persia is the place of origin of spinach. Their name derives from the Arabic aspanakh (crossed with the thorn). Arriving in China thanks to the King of Nepal, the Arabs introduced them to Spain and then to the rest of Europe around the year 1000, defining spinach as “the prince of vegetables” due to its nutritional properties. It is also said that it was Caterina de ‘Medici who introduced them to the French court, where they were called and cooked à la Florentine. Only after 1500 did spinach begin to be exported to the colonized Americas as well.

Starting in 1929, with a perfect marketing strategy to encourage consumption among children and increase sales, spinach was then associated with Popeye and known for their extraordinary ability to give strength to those who eat them.

Spinach nutritional values: not just iron

As the nutritional values ​​of spinaches show, they are a perfect source of protein, carbohydrates and fiber, as well as rich in minerals and vitamins. Also suitable for low-calorie diets, they contain few calories: out of 100 grams of spinach there are only 31 kcal and 0.7 grams of fat. Despite the myth of Popeye, the idea of ​​the high amount of iron brought to the body is wrong. The ideal is, in fact, to consume spinach with lemon, since the citrus vitamin C helps the body to assimilate iron.

Properties and benefits of spinach: the allies of our body

Spinach is rich in properties that make them allies of our body, bringing numerous benefits. One of the most significant benefits of spinach is the effect this vegetable has on the cardiovascular system. Rich in folic acid, in fact, it helps to reduce homocysteine, the high values ​​of which increase the risk of heart attack and cerebrovascular disease. The high water and fiber content, on the other hand, facilitates the proper and regular functioning of the intestine, making spinach ideal against constipation.

Several studies have been conducted with the aim of highlighting the positive effects of the consumption of spinach in the prevention of Alzheimer’s. These plants are in fact rich in flavonoids which act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, able to help reduce the glycation of proteins and improve the complications of diabetes related to age.

Finally, spinach helps to counteract aging, through the production of collagen, and to protect skin and eyes thanks to the rich amount of magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin A and vitamin C.

How to use spinach in the kitchen: tips and ideas

Because of its beneficial properties and their taste, spinach is widely used in cooking, also thanks to the great versatility of these vegetables. As the main ingredient in a soup or as a side dish, baby spinach can also be eaten raw, keeping all its properties. Spinach and ricotta are elements that blend perfectly and perhaps also the most used in first courses, such as risotto, lasagna or ravioli, or even in savory pies. The possible combinations, however, are so many. In this article we offer two tasty and quick ideas for preparing tasty spinach-based dishes.

Baby spinach, walnuts and parmesan salad: a light dish full of beneficial properties

Spinach, small, fresh and tender leaves like those produced by Altamura OP, are perfect to eat raw to preserve all the properties of the vegetable. Perfect for the summer or when you have little time to cook, the spinach salad is simple but also tasty, and above all it is good for the body. For prepararla, just put the baby spinach in a bowl together with the lemon juice and salt, after having washed them well and let them drain. At this point, chop the walnuts, cut the cheese into flakes and add them to the baby spinach. Pour a drizzle of oil, pepper and mix well to flavor evenly. You just have to taste it!

Spinach omelette: a quick and traditional recipe

The spinach omelette is one of the most traditional preparations made of eggs and vegetables. Loved by young and old, it is also a complete vegetarian main course, simple to make, but with a surprising flavor. To prepare the omelette, wash the spinach and steam it for about five minutes, which is the best way to avoid altering its nutritional properties. When they are ready, drain and let them cool. Separately, in a bowl, beat the eggs together with salt, pepper and milk. When they have cooled, add the spinach and parmesan to the eggs, stirring gently. Put a pan on the heat with a drizzle of oil or a knob of butter, when it is hot, pour the mixture and cook for five minutes on each side. The spinach omelette is ready and is perfect to be enjoyed both hot and cold.

Spinach is rich in nutrients and beneficial properties for the body. Their versatility also makes them very simple to include in your daily diet. With a pinch of creativity and imagination you can experiment with many and different recipes, tasty and healthy.