In Italy, in Italian cuisine restaurant’s menu, among other side dishes, you can find sautéed spinach. And it doesn’t matter if the restaurant is located in a hot touristy spot or in a small, hard to find on map village. Everywhere the spinach is prepared in the same manner with its price being the only difference. A little bit of garlic, some good olive oil, and a touch of salt – and that is it. A drop of fresh lemon juice and some heat from hot pepper is always a good idea.
This light and healthy side dish goes well with almost anything. It can be enjoyed with famous Florentine steak, rich lamb, roasted chicken, dip-fried shrimp, tender salmon and other fresh catch of the day, or even with pasta. Well, this is not it…
Sometimes I add to the spinach more lemon juice with lemon zest, or more hot pepper, more garlic, some capers and almonds, anchovies or bacon to the spinach, and then mix everything with fresh ricotta, making an interesting spread. I serve it with fresh ciabatta, toasts or crackers and garnish with parsley or chives, or fresh vegetables (slice of a cucumber, sweet pepper, or grape tomato). This healthy and easy to make appetizer is a crowd pleasure and a great addition to any party.
As for the sautéed spinach, for a sharper taste and more ‘Italian sounding’, but less authentic dish, I don’t mind adding some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.
If the spinach is mature, cut of and discard the tough stems. If the spinach is young, cook it with stems.
Wash the spinach well and dry with a paper towel or in a salad spinner.
In a large deep pan heat the olive oil. Add the chili pepper and garlic; cook on low-to-medium heat for 1 minute.
Add the spinach, salt and ground black pepper; cover with a lid and cook on medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
Take the lid off, stir the spinach and cook, stirring, on high heat, for 1-2 minutes or until the spinach is wilted.
With two large or salad spoons transfer the spinach into a serving dish, while squeezing some liquid.
Drizzle the spinach with extra virgin olive oil and, optionally, squeeze some lemon juice.
Optionally, top the spinach with freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.
Cook with pleasure and enjoy the world!