Spinach is probably one of the most nutritious veg we can eat as it’s loaded with vitamins – especially vitamins B9, C, K, Calcium and iron but it can be an acquired taste.
It can (but not always) taste bitter due to the levels of oxalic acid it contains. Many leafy veg contain oxalic acid, which in high concentrations can be poisonous (eg rhubarb leaves) and fatal. I googled “spinach” and “oxalic acid” out of curiosity to find out how much you would need to eat for it to be dangerous….. and found there are pages, and pages and pages of information out there – many with differing opinions. Suffice to say that it would take a lot more spinach to harm us than our family or ‘Joe Public’ is likely to ever eat!
As well as spinach, we grow Swiss chard in our garden – the rainbow variety. It’s not as strong tasting and withstands the colder temperatures better. It doesn’t bolt as quickly either.
Chard is a type of beetroot without the beet (the swollen root). It’s from the same ‘family of vegetables’ – the Chenopodiaceae for anyone interested – so is grown in the same area.
I love the colours from the rainbow variety (ruby red, yellow and white stems) and they wouldn’t look out of place in a flower bed. If you’re tempted to grow Chard for cooking it’s a good idea to cut out the thick stem that run through the leaves (the midrib) and cook it separately as it takes longer (lovely stir fried, or steamed a few minutes before the leaves).
So, on to the recipe… As ever I’m always on the look out for easy recipes and came across this one on the food network channel which I’ve adapted (so I’m afraid the ingredients list and cooking time is a bit hap hazard!)
You could use Swiss chard instead of spinach but pre-cook it until it’s wilted as it takes a bit longer to cook than spinach.
300g fresh spinach (or about 10oz of frozen)
A pack of feta cheese, or approx 120g
50g soft cheese (I used extra low fat Philidelphia)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Freshly grated nutmeg
lots of black pepper
1 pack of frozen puff pastry
Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºC/gas 6
Wash the fresh spinach and place it in a pan over heat with a lid on for a few minutes until it’s wilted slightly. If you use frozen, run it under warm water or defrost it in a microwave as per the instructions. Drain the leaves, let them cool for a couple of minutes if needed then squeeze as much excess water as you can from them.
|Spinach, feta & cream cheese mix|
Chop the leaves and place them in a bowl with all the other ingredients (except the pastry!) Mix together with your (clean) hands, Nigella style.
Sprinkle some flour onto a clean, dry worktop and roll out the puff pastry in a square shape to about 3mm thick. Using a ruler cut the pastry into 7.5cm (3in) squares.
Imagining the square as two triangles, place a teaspoon of filling into the top half then dip your finger into a bowl of cold water and moisten the top edges of the pastry with the water.
Fold the squares in half so that the edges meet and then seal them together with a fork.
Brush the little pastries with milk then place onto baking paper (or a greased tin) for about 15 minutes, until they’re golden and puffed.
These are delicious served hot or cold. I had enough pastry to make about 26, and enough filling to make another 26! Yum. Enjoy!