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Good news for spinach lovers: It’s back in season

09/28/2013 8:44 AM

09/28/2013 8:44 AM

Rich in vitamins K, A and C, spinach gained popularity over the last several years for its many health benefits.

Iron and magnesium are among the vitamins and minerals abundant in the dark, leafy green. Spinach is a cool weather crop, and thanks to many farmers growing well into the winter, it’s available in the Kansas City area from late September through April or May.

And it’s back at local farmers’ markets for those who anxiously awaited its return.

The versatile green adds a healthful punch to salads, sautéed vegetables, casseroles and many other dishes. At the end of spinach season earlier this year, I wanted spinach on hand that was easy to use in a variety of dishes.

So, I threw two healthy handfuls of spinach into my food processor. I sprinkled pecans and Parmesan cheese around the top, added two cloves of raw garlic, locked the lid, and processed on high while I drizzled in olive oil for a few seconds.

For a week straight I ate it on everything. I boiled pasta al dente in salted water, topped with the spinach pesto, and sprinkled with more cheese. I spread the pesto to the edges of pizza crust, topped with an Italian-blend cheese and popped it under the boiler until the cheese was bubbly and the crust crisp. I also spread it on more grilled cheese sandwiches than I’d like to admit.

Spinach Pesto 4 cups raw spinach 1/2 cup pecans (toast for 10 minutes to achieve greater depth of flavor) 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese 2 cloves garlic 4 tablespoons olive oil

Food process first four ingredients while drizzling in olive oil.

Serve over pasta, with fish, chicken or steak, or slather on slices of baguette.

Raised by generations of cooks, farmers and green thumbs, Andrea Shores is an enthusiastic eater and curious cook. She loves sharing her passion for local food by telling farmers’ and food purveyors’ stories.

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