Spinach originated from Persia (now Iran) and was brought to China in the 7th century, who are the world’s largest producers of the crop. In the 1930s, it was thought that Popeye boosted spinach consumption in the US by 33%. Spinach was the first vegetable to be sold frozen as a commercial product and is a staple worldwide.
Spinach varieties can be found in three major types: savoy, semi-savoy, and flat-leafed.
Young spinach leaves are often included in salad mixes and sold with other salad greens. Baby spinach has round to oblong leaves with a mild flavour and is a perfect substitute when lettuce leaves or roquette prices rise.
New Zealand spinach
This is a native spinach which grows wild, has triangular leaves and trails over the ground. It is generally cooked, as the leaves are coarse and slightly furry when raw. The flavour is similar to standard spinach.
This heirloom savoy variety of spinach has thick, wide, crumpled leaves. A good winter crop as it withstands winter cold.
Another heirloom variety with large, arrowshaped leaves is a good example of a flat leaf spinach.
Spinach is every chef’s best friend when catering for a crowd or a cabinet. It makes a substantial filler in filo or pie mixes and especially salads. With its slightly sweet but crisp neutral flavour, it folds through fillings and salads without drastically changing the taste.
Utilise spinach’s vibrant green pigment to intensify the colour of pesto, herby dressings or to create house-made spinach pasta dough. Wilt baby spinach for eggs Florentine or use it to brighten quiches and frittatas.
Spinach is the perfect addition in rich, creamy dips and sauces. Add it into a winter artichoke dip, creamed spinach pasta or a saagwala curry. Balance out the richness with zingy winter lemon.
For fresh side salads, pair spinach with sweet citrus, crisp fruits, crunchy vegetables, and nuts and seeds. From vinaigrettes to mayonnaises, spinach salads can be dressed with almost anything, making it the perfect base to get creative.
Spinach is rich in vitamins and minerals, so don’t forget to add it in to house-made juices and smoothies.
Grown in pockets across the country with the main crop coming out of the North Island
(Auckland and Manawatu) plus a significant volume from the Canterbury region.