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What a weird day! Seriously. How do spinach, waffles and nougat all end up sharing the same holiday? I could think of no way to combine the three that would result in anything that I would want to eat. And since I am attempting to eat healthier (upcoming Lemon Chiffon Cake Day notwithstanding), I decided that I would do Spinach Day. Besides, I really like spinach.  And it’s good for you (read about all the healthy stuff here) and it makes your teeth squeak which is just kind of cool and if you eat enough, chicks will dig you.  Just ask Popeye and Olive Oyl. Sadly, spinach is another one of those plants that is soaked in pesticides and ranks in the high middle of the worst of the Bad List so you should buy organic (and local) whenever possible.  Which leads me to today’s dilemna…

There has been no spinach worth having to be found in any of my favourite food shopping haunts. Trust me.  I’ve been looking for days.  Why is there no locally grown organic spinach around right now?  Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe because it’s still March. Even my favourite greenhouse isn’t producing yet (probably because they try to rely on the sun for light and heat instead of electricity). So here I sit, thinking longingly of long, warm, sunny days that will produce good to eat stuff like spinach and tomatoes and bell peppers and … *sigh*  I suppose I could have bought frozen spinach and made something with that. In fact, it’s not actually a bad option for the following reasons: (1) unless it’s really insanely fresh baby spinach, I don’t like raw spinach; and (2) it takes a LOT of spinach to make a decent amount of cooked spinach. For recipes requiring large amounts of cooked spinach, like spanokopita or lasagna, frozen spinach is an acceptable shortcut if you don’t mind the pesticides (unless you can find organic frozen spinach which I can’t recall seeing ever).

So I didn’t buy any spinach this week. Which means I did not prepare and eat any spinach for today’s post.  Which makes me sad.  Today I worked late and on the way home I contemplated making one more last ditch attempt to find some spinach worth eating.  I was even willing to cave in and buy some crappy, pesticide-laden, imported from who-knows-where spinach.  But then I remembered what the wilted, muddy looking stuff masquerading as spinach at the grocery store yesterday looked like and decided to skip it and race home just in time to have some fun time watching my kid play in the bath instead.  Pause here for gratuitous cute kid shot:

I will attempt to make up for the lack of Sexy Spinach Shots (nice alliteration eh?) by sharing with you a recipe for a very simple, very beautiful Japanese spinach dish called Oshitashi.  Whenever I try out a new Japanese restaurant, I like to order their oshitashi. Besides the quality of the sushi rice, the sunomono vinaigrette, the miso broth and the tamago, the oshitashi is a pretty great marker of the quality of the restaurant.  It’s all about how the spinach is cooked.  When you get around to finding some good spinach and making this dish, you will forgive me I’m sure.  I modified this recipe slightly from one I found in a little book I have called (surprise, surprise) “Japanese Cooking” by Peter and Joan Martin, Gramercy Publishing Company, New York ©1970.

1. Wash 1 lb. spinach really well and do not remove stems unless they are tough. Using twine, tie the spinach in bunches by its stems.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and then put the spinach in, pushing it under the surface of the water, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes.  Remove from the hot water before the bright green colour fades and run cold water over it to cool it quickly.

3. Squeeze out the excess water by rolling the spinach up in a bamboo sushi mat and squeezing firmly until the spinach holds together in a cylindrical shape.  Discard the twine and cut the spinach cylinder into sushi size pieces.

4.In frying pan, lightly toast 3-4 tbsp. white sesame seeds until golden. Crush in mortar and set aside.

Dressing Option 1 – As per the Martins’ book: Mix together 2 tbsp. light soy sauce & 1/2 cup dashi broth.  Pour over spinach, garnish with dried bonito flakes.

Dressing Option 2 – B’s “I-don’t-have-any-dashi-and-I-like-sesame-seeds” Substitute: Mix together 3 tbsp. light soy sauce, 2 tbsp. mirin and 1/2 tsp. sugar.  Add sesame seeds.  Pour mixture over spinach, garnish with bonito flakes if you have them and enjoy!

I also found this recipe which relies on marinating the spinach instead of cooking it and I think it sounds really great.

That’s all for today.