spinach

What is Spinach (Palak)? Glossary | Uses , Benefits, recipes with Spinach | Viewed 89732 times

Also Known as
Palak, paalak

What is Palak, Spinach?


Leafy green vegetables like spinach with its delicate texture and jade green color provide more nutrients than any other food.

Popeye popularized spinach, but it's too bad he ate it out of a can. Fresh spinach retains the delicacy of texture and jade green color that is lost when spinach is processed. Raw spinach has a mild, slightly sweet taste that can be refreshing in salads, while its flavor becomes more acidic and robust when it is cooked.

There are three different types of spinach generally available.
· Savoy has crisp, creased curly leaves that have a springy texture.
· Smooth-leaf has flat, unwrinkled, spade-shaped leaves, while semi-savoy is similar in texture to savoy but is not as crinkled in appearance.
· Baby spinach is great for use in salads as it has a sweeter taste, probably owing to its reduced concentration of oxalic acid.

Blanched and chopped spinach
After washing the spinach and removing the stem, roughly chop the spinach. Immerse the spinach leaves in boiling water along with salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately put the blanched spinach in ice cold water, this helps in retaining the colour of the spinach.
Drain well using a strainer and squeeze it with your hands to get rid to excessive water. Use as required.
Blanched spinach
After removing the stem, take the leaves and wash them thoroughly under running water. Then immerse the spinach leaves in boiling water for 20 seconds and then plunge into cold water. Remove and use as per the dish. If the recipe calls for chopping before blanching, chop as per the procedure given below and then blanch it.
Chopped spinach
Wash the bunch of spinach thoroughly with running water. Separate out the stems from the leaves individually and discard the stems. Place a few spinach leaves on a chopping board and cut at regular intervals using a sharp knife. Line all the pieces together and now cut it at right angle to get chopped spinach. Chop the spinach by cutting them in small pieces approximately ¼ inch in diameter, although the chopped spinach need not be exactly of the same size. If the recipe calls for the ingredients to be "roughly chopped," make the pieces slightly larger and proceed as per the recipe.
Shredded spinach
Wash the bunch of spinach thoroughly with running water. Separate out the stems from the leaves individually and discard the stems. Place a few spinach leaves on a chopping board and cut longitudinally at regular intervals using a sharp knife.
Spinach puree
After washing the spinach and removing the stem, roughly chop the spinach. Immerse the spinach leaves in boiling water along with salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately put the blanched spinach in ice cold water, this helps in retaining the colour of the spinach.
Drain well using a strainer and squeeze it with your hands to get rid to excessive water. Transfer the blanched leaves to a blender and blend until smooth to get spinach puree. Use as required.


How to select Palak, Spinach?
Although spinach is available throughout the year, its season runs from March through May and from September through October when it is the freshest, has the best flavor and is most readily available.  Choose spinach that has vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender, and not be wilted or bruised. Avoid those that have a slimy coating as this is an indication of decay.

13 Culinary Uses of Spinach, Palak.

1. Spinach can be used in soups like Cream of Spinach Soup and Moong Dal and Spinach Soup
  
2. No Indian meal is complete without a raita and spinach is a perfect option to use in Palak Raita and Spinach Mixed Sprouts Raita.

3. If you are going to use the spinach in a salad, you can dry it in either a salad spinner or by shaking it in a colander. A must try are Barley Feta Spinach Salad and Cabbage Spinach Salad

 4. Spinach can be used to make some good starters in Spinach Hummus to Spinach and Paneer Dip. 

5. For breakfast we often make Spinach and Mint Juice with a creamy Spinach Toast option and if you want an Indian bread then there is Palak Paratha

6. Punjabi's love palak and a regular is Palak Paneer

7. Spinach, whether bunched or prepackaged, should be washed very well since the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil.  

8. Before washing, trim off the roots and separate the leaves. Place the spinach in a large bowl of tepid water and swish the leaves around with your hands as this will allow any dirt to become dislodged. Remove the leaves from the water, empty the bowl, refill with clean water and repeat this process until no dirt remains in the water (usually two to three times will do the trick). Cut away any overly thick stems to ensure for more even cooking. 

9. If you are going to cook it, you do not need to worry about drying it well as the remaining water will serve to help it cook. 

10. Spinach is one of the few vegetables we suggest quick boiling (for one minute). That's because boiling will help to reduce the amount of oxalic acids found in spinach, resulting in a sweeter taste. 

11. Add layers of steamed spinach to your next lasagna recipe.  

12. Toss steamed spinach with pressed garlic, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese.  

13. Pine nuts are a great addition to cooked spinach. 

How to Store Palak, Spinach
Store fresh spinach loosely packed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep fresh for about five days. Do not wash it before storing as the moisture will cause it to spoil. Avoid storing cooked spinach as it will not keep very well.

Nutritional Information of Spinach

One cup of chopped Spinach is 68 grams.
RDA stands for Recommended Daily Allowance.
Nutritional Information for 1 cup chopped Spinach.

17.68 Calories
1.36 grams of Protein
1.97 grams of Carbs
1.7 grams of High Fiber
0.47 grams of Fat


3794 mcg of Vitamin A = 158 % of RDA (about 2,400 mcg)

Full nutritional information of Palak found here.

Health Benefits of Spinach

1. Rich in Iron : Spinach is one of the richest plant sources of Iron and it should be part of a healthy diet for everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest adult. Cooked spinach is an excellent source of iron, a mineral that it particularly important for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency. Boosting iron stores with spinach is a good idea, especially because, in comparison to red meat, a well-known source of iron, spinach provides iron for a lot less calories and is totally fat-free.

Read this for 17 Health Benefits of Spinach.


Glycemic Index of Spinach
Spinach has a Glycemic Index of 15 which is low. Glycemic Index are for foods you eat, ranks carbohydrate-containing foods by how quickly they digest and raise your blood sugar or glucose levels. Foods rank from 0 to 50 are low GI, 51 to 69 are medium and 70 to 100 are high. Foods that are high in GI are not suitable for weight loss and diabetics. Foods like Spinach have a low GI and hence don't spike your glucose level as they are absorbed slowly. Great for weight loss.

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