Popeye knew his veggies. Spinach is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables you can find. The dark green color just shouts healthy. Throughout the years it’s been known for its iron content. However, spinach packs a healthy punch of numerous vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and omega three fatty acids.
Specifically, this leafy green is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B2, potassium, and vitamin B6. It’s a very good source of protein, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc, dietary fiber, and copper.
Spinach is incredibly versatile when preparing meals. It adds flavor and depth to any salad, mixed with other greens or on it’s own. It’s wonderful simply sautéed with garlic and olive oil or pureed in a soup. Baby spinach is readily available at grocery stores, pre-washed and bagged. Including these tender greens in any meal is convenient and tasty.
Unfortunately, spinach is not my daughter’s favorite vegetable, so I felt challenged to find a preparation she would enjoy. I was intrigued by the idea of a spinach pesto. I felt it’s rich green hue and delicate herbaceous flavor would lend itself to this northern Italian sauce. A 12 ounce bag of baby spinach is packed into one cup of this pesto. Along with heart healthy extra virgin olive oil, garlic and nutty pepitas (pumpkin seeds)– this is a no guilt sauce for pasta, meat or used as a sandwich spread. It’s bright green color turns any dish into a visual sensation. It was a hit served on angel hair pasta, topped with toasted pepitas. Popeye would have loved this recipe, savoring his spinach instead of busting it out of a can and eating it in one gulp!
Spinach Pesto with Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 12 ounce bag of pre-washed baby spinach
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup pepitas
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup grated parmesan (you can use pre-grated from the store)
½ tsp coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
¼ cup toasted pepitas
In a food processor, blend pepitas an garlic until finely chopped. Add ½ of spinach and olive oil. Blend until smooth. Add the rest of spinach, parmesan, salt and pepper and blend until smooth.
Lay out extra pepitas on a baking pan and lightly toast under the broiler or in a toaster oven. Use as garnish for pesto.