Spinach seems to be in abundance at the moment, all those big bunches of shiny green leaves, three for a pound in the market. I’m not normally a spinach-lover, it’s on my list of foods I don’t really love eating but I’ll eat anyway, which is about as far as I’ll go in regards to hating food but I think it’s just the baby leaf stuff I don’t like.
Baby spinach has become a bit of a supermarket staple but the large-leaf stuff is far superior. My chef friend Oisin Coyle says: “I’m not a big fan of baby leaf, it needs lots of butter and salt to give flavour, but large leaf is packed with flavour and has a much nicer texture.” So there you go.
In a bit of a spinach bonanaza I thought I’d bring you not one, but TWO spinach recipes. The first is a lovely summery soup full of greens, it’s the kind of thing you vow to eat after you’ve demolished a burger, fries, onion rings and maybe some cake. I’m just guessing, like.
Spinach, Courgette and Chickpea Broth
Spinach and chickpea are a total match made in heaven, and here I add in some courgette as well as thyme and parsley with some lovely olive oil for a flavoursome broth. Cumin is the sexy spice glue that binds chickpeas and spinach in holy matrimony, I also put in some sezchuan pepper for a bit of surprise spice that catches you unaware. You can totally add in some meat if you want by frying off some chorizo, sausage or lardons after you’ve done the onions, but I was on a bit of a health kick this week and it tastes great sans meat anyway.
Spinach, Courgette and Chickpea Broth Ingredients (serves four greedy people)
Two bunches of spinach
Two large tins of chickpeas (or four small tins)
Two courgettes, chopped into small pieces
Three small onions or five shallots preferably, chopped
Three cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 buch of thyme
1/3 bunch parsley, finely chopped
Cumin, sumac, sezchuan pepper, smoked paprika, chilli powder
Fry off the onions in olvie oil till soft, then add the garlic, cumin and sezchuan pepper. Make sure this is all thoroughly cooked through and the onions are starting to become golden before adding the chickpeas. Chuck in the rest of the spices, the stock cube and the courgettes. When the courgettes are soft add in enough water to cover it all, taste and season. It should be quite a flavoursome broth, with an almost meaty kick afforded by the paprika. Once you’re sure everything is cooked add in the spinach and simmer until it’s just wilted. Chuck in the chopped parsley and another glug of oil. Serve with flatbread.
Prawn, Aubergine and Chickpea Curry
The following dish turned out to be a bit of a disaster, the tofu I bought was two months out of date (I KNOW), the paste was nearly a year out of date (I used it anyway, it was in the freezer) and the prawns were a day out of date (that’s fine though, right?) I also kept burning stuff and just generally being a bit cack-handed.
I’m still putting this recipe up though, because everyone has days when they’re a bit brain dead, things don’t go to plan and you take your eye off the ball and it all turns to shit. Point is, my weird mistake-strewn curry still tasted great and is way healthier than some rubbish disappointing supermarket ready meal. It’s ok for things to get all disastrous, it’s still worth doing. Maybe next time I’ll pay more attention and my local Chinese supermarket (Wing Tai you know who you are!) won’t try to kill me with out of date tofu.
Prawn, Aubergine and Chickpea Curry Ingredients (serves two greedy people)
Bunch of spinach
Tofu (or not, I ended up chucking in some carrot)
Man Ploy yellow curry paste
Fish sauce, Garlic, Ginger, Chilli, Lime
Fry the garlic, chilli and ginger in vegetable oil and marvel at the greatest smell known to man. Add in the aubergine and keep stirring to ensure they evenly coat with oil. If you had a tofu disaster throw in your carrots now, otherwise cook the aubos through and add in your out of date curry paste and the juice of a lime, turn the heat down low. While this is cooking boil up some brown rice and throw in the squeezed lime halves for a bit to add flavour. Add some generous splashes of fish sauce to the curry and pour in the coconut milk and some water. Let this bubble away until the rice is nearly cooked and then throw in your prawns, tofu and spinach.
Isabelle O'Carroll: I’m a writer, content designer and consultant with 11+ years’ experience across fashion, food and drink and the arts.