What’s Fresh in December? Ahoy, spinach!

Ahoy, Spinach!

This cold weather vegetable is ready to set sail onto your dinner plate.

Story by Maddie Bane

Fun fact: In 1930, the beloved animated character Popeye was credited with increasing spinach consumption in the U.S. by 33 percent. A few years later, a statue of the cartoon sailor was put up in the spinach-harvesting town of Crystal City, Texas. Today, spinach is popular for its low-calorie/high-nutrition content and its unlimited ways of consumption. Due to being a cool season crop, spinach in the Lowcountry is often planted in the fall and ready for harvesting throughout the winter. It can grow practically all year ’round, but the cooler temperatures make the leaves sweeter and more nutrient-dense. Now is the time to grow, purchase and scarf down this nutritious and delicious leafy green.

Unbe-leafable nutrition

Spinach contains vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. It also contains vitamin K1, a vitamin often used for blood clotting issues Spinach contains a high amount of fiber, which can aid in a healthy digestive system. Last but not least, it holds a high amount of iron. It’s no wonder that Popeye had such big muscles.

Grow your own way

Conveniently, spinach can grow well in a variety of soils. Seeds should be planted one- to three-feet apart and half of an inch deep. Be sure to firm the soil over the seed, so that germination can take place. The plant should be watered in the morning in order for it to be dry by nightfall, which will help reduce the chances of any diseases developing. After 40 days, if the leaves are three- to six-inches long, then they are ready to be harvested.

Where to buy them

You’ll be able to find spinach — bagged or frozen — at nearly all grocery stores in the area. But if you’re wanting some a tad fresher, there are plenty of farmers’ markets that can provide such.

Tuesday: Hilton Head Farmers Market, Coastal Discovery Museum, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Thursday: Downtown Bluffton Farmers Market, Calhoun Street, noon-3 p.m.

Saturday: Port Royal Farmers Market, Naval Heritage Park, 9 a.m.-noon

Order up!

Don’t feel like cooking? Here are some local dishes that are sure to satisfy your spinach craving.

ELA’s on the Water
Veal Osso Bucco Ravioli: Saffron-infused pasta with sautéed spinach in a white wine demi-glace with grilled pears and shaved parmesan cheese.

Palmetto Bay Sunrise Cafe
Shrimp and Spinach Eggs Benedict: Two poached eggs and spinach served on a toasted English muffin with homemade hollandaise sauce.

Nunzio Restaurant + Bar
Capesante Grigliate al Tartufo: Grilled diver sea scallops over sautéed spinach with lemon, truffle beurre blanc and
minced peppers.

How to eat ‘em

Like all leafy greens, spinach is great blanched, sautéed or steamed. It can be eaten raw as a snack or in salads, or it can be added into smoothies as a sneaky way to get your greens in for the day.

LOCAL Life Test Kitchen – Creamy mushroom and spinach tagliatelle


1 package dried tagliatelle

17 fluid ounces creme fraiche

7 ounces fresh spinach

1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

10 mushrooms, finely sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions [1] Once the oil is heated in a pan over medium heat, add in spring onions, garlic and mushrooms. After 8 to 10 minutes, add the spinach, and stir until wilted. [2] Remove from heat and add in the creme fraiche. Return pan to heat and boil until the sauce has thickened. Add in salt and pepper. [3] Once pasta has cooked in boiling, salted water, drain and mix in with the mushroom and spinach sauce. Serve immediately.

LOCAL Life Test Kitchen – Spinach, blue cheese & walnut puffs


10 ounces spinach

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon dill, chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 large eggs

1 sheet puff pastry

Handful of walnuts, halved

Directions [1] Mix together spinach, cheese, olive oil, dill, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Beat one egg and fold into mixture. [2] Cut the pastry sheet into three equal strips. Cut two strips into three squares, and place those six pieces into a muffin tin. Save the third strip for later. [3] Place the spinach mixture into the pastry cups, and fold the ends over to all meet in the middle. Place a halved walnut on where the four corners meet. [4] Beat the remaining egg and brush over the pastries. [5] Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve after 10 minutes of cooling time.

LOCAL Life Test Kitchen – Sweet potato & spinach egg muffins


6 eggs

6 egg whites

1/3 cup milk

1 tablespoon fresh chives

1 1/4 cups sweet potatoes, chopped

4 cups spinach, chopped

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon olive oil

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions [1] Whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, chives, salt and pepper. [2] With the olive oil, over medium heat, cook sweet potatoes in a skillet until softened. Add in the garlic, spinach, and nutmeg, and cook for two additional minutes. [3] Let cool, and then add into egg mixture. Bake in a muffin tin at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

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