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Are you having an evolutionary flashback?

Belonging to a CSA means eating according to the natural, local growing cycles. Back in the olden days, this was the only option. No avocados if you lived in Colorado. No tomatoes in the winter unless you canned them. No spinach in December.

Here in the Rocky Mountains, you can count on the possibility of snow into May (maybe longer), so June and July mean LOTS of greens (seriously, like a ton). Right now my CSA share box is overflowing with spinach. My crisper drawer is jammed. I can’t shove another leaf into it.

That’s the perceived downside to belonging to a CSA. No variety. Spinach, spinach and more spinach. Hey, we have too many options in life as it is, enjoy the simplicity. Sometimes less is more (or something like that).

Just think “primitive diet” with a contemporary twist. Spinach is our main ingredient, we simply need to resort to some creative accessorizing. How about some maple syrup to sweeten things up? Those of you who have been following this blog for any length of time might recognize a pattern here. Pure, organic maple syrup is often my answer to life’s dilemmas.

warm maple spinach salad
what you need

10 cups washed, stemmed and gently torn spinach
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/4 cup (or more) chopped pecans
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda

what you do
1. Toast pecans in a small skillet over low heat until fragrant (3 to 5 minutes). Stir often. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.
2. Toss spinach and cucumber in a large bowl.
3. Heat oil in small skillet over low-medium heat. Add shallot and cook 4 to 5 minutes until softened. Stir often. Don’t let the shallot burn. Add vinegar and maple syrup and increase heat until almost boiling. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Immediately pour the dressing over the spinach and cucumber. Toss well and sprinkle with cheese and toasted pecans.

Makes 4 large servings or 6 small ones.

As for the abundance of CSA spinach, if all else fails, make a bouquet-ish arrangement out of it. See photo above.

Go forth and eat spinach! Over and over.
Melissa
P.S. Cid, I’m counting on you to set me straight on my cheese choice. I’m guessing there’s a more fashionable accessory than smoked Gouda.

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17 Responses to “Spinach, spinach and more spinach”

  1. Alta says:

    Maple and spinach – I would have never thought of that! I do like your thinking though – solving life’s dilemmas with maple syrup. I bet there’s a limit to how much maple is really helpful, though…eating by the spoonful? Maybe not. I can imagine you’re having to get creative with your spinach! How about wilting, adding sesame seeds, maybe some soy (or coconut aminos) and making a bibimbap? A spinach-heavy one…LOL And smoothies – I’m all for spinach in smoothies!

  2. Melissa says:

    Alta,

    I’m sipping a spinach smoothie as I type! I’ll post the recipe next. And yes, wilting and adding sesame seeds is perfect. Thanks for the reminder!

    Bibimbap? Hmmm? Must go look that one up.

    Thanks, Alta. I appreciate your input on this. Off to find out what bibimbap is.

    =)

  3. Christopher says:

    Cuz – this looks really good. I’d love to show you our veggie garden – we’ve already reaped its bounty! No spinach, though – will have to get it from OUR box.

    • Melissa says:

      Christopher,

      Send me a photo (include the kids). What are you growing? Are you doing both? CSA box and garden? I did that last summer until the hail destroyed my farm-girl dreams. I’ve decided it’s cheaper and much easier to let Andy (my personal farmer) grow all my organic stuff for me. Plus, his veggies are SO much better than mine. Mine are okay, but he’s much more serious about this whole farming thing.
      =)

      xoxo

  4. lo says:

    Honestly, the maple syrup here would never have crossed my mind. But, that’s why I love you so — you always get my brain thinking about delicious new combinations.

    Honestly — I’m one of the freaks who really LOVES seasonal eating… for the simple fact that it allows me to wallow around in a seasonal food for a while, get good and sick of it, and then take a break from it for a while. In the case of spinach, we enjoy those tender spring & early summer greens ad nauseum… and then we take a break to wait for the delicious fall & winter varieties that get even sweeter from being kissed by the WI frost. *heavenly*

  5. Renee says:

    Yum! The maple syrup and pecans sounds good together. And gouda, yummy! Although my husband is not a big fan of spinach, I think with the gouda, he might like it better. I think I have force fed him enough spinach this spring already. Lucky for him it got hot here in NM and my spinach all bolted. Hopefully we’ll have more in the fall!

  6. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    I’m liking the thought of this salad and wish I could get myself into the habit of eating this way more often. As for cheese, well it’s hard to beat freshly grated parmesan or Greek feta but I’m guessing there’s a whole range of crumbled goats cheese which would do the job. Another Gouda to consider is Old Amsterdam which is a very hard extra matured variety…. there are other Goudas with similar credentials but they tend to be on the expensive side…. mind you with only using a grating now and then, like parmesan it becomes reasonable. Cubed blue cheeses can be creamy or salty and sharp, the choices are endless. I’ve also enjoyed warm dressings made with Camembert or other soft smelly rind washed cheeses…. either way it all sounds delicious.

    Cid

    p.s. Melissa, I’ve finally made those coffee tamarind cup cakes we talked about. I’d say they were an acquired taste but what I did love was the rice flour mixture, light and easy to digest. Next time I’ll perhaps make a lemon curd version.

  7. Melissa says:

    Lo,

    Well, I hate to admit it, but pure maple syrup “crossed my mind” quite often. That stuff is my downfall, my addiction. I agree with you about seasonal eating. I love it as well. You just have to enjoy it and go with the abundant flow of whatever is being “served up” at the time!

    Yes, “heavenly” indeed.

  8. Melissa says:

    Renee,

    Maple syrup and pecans were meant to be used together! I love the combo and actually use it in baking as well. I use maple syrup as my sugar substitute and often throw chopped pecans into a muffin or breakfast bread mix.

    Where in NM? I used to live in Taos.

    =)

  9. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    Oh, thank you! I knew you’d add cheese sophistication to my recipe. I haven’t experimented with Greek feta much, but am on a roll with high-end Greek yogurt, so I’ll keep the feta on my list. I’m such a fan of parmesan, gouda and goat cheese and agree that it’s best to buy the good stuff and use it sparingly. I will definitely remember to use the rind as well. I’ll also check the camembert choices. That’s also one I’m not very familiar with.

    Yes, crumbled goat cheese on spinach salad sounds wonderful. That will be next.

    Lemon curd (gluten free) would be delicious. I think I have a jar of fancy lemon curd in the pantry. Good idea! I’ll have to go back and review that tamarind cup cake recipe. What was it you weren’t that happy about? Baking with GF flours isn’t as easy as one might think. There are some tricks to it, that’s for sure.

    Thanks for your input. Perfect!

    xo

  10. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    It could well be my fault because the coffee could have been ground finer and perhaps there was a bit too much tamarind. We’re not especially good at adding ‘sour’ to our recipes sometimes although other cultures make a point of it. Slight modification might be in order then we’ll see… the originator of this recipe certainly seemed to like them for breakfast without the frosting…. well they do give a kick of coffee first thing in the morning I suppose. I’ve decided though, that I do like rice flour recipes and will try a few more out and report back.

    Cid

  11. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    …. one more thing:

    250gm camembert
    2 tablespoons creme fraiche

    Just before serving the salad, cut the rind off the cheese with a sharp knife (mind fingers now) then put into a pan with the creme fraiche and warm through to combine… do not over heat or it will become stringy. Then pour over the salad. A chopped apple is good with this.

    Cid

  12. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    I’ll check out tamarind next time I’m at an ethnic food market. You don’t see it often and I’ve never used it. You used a “key” word in your comment above. Frosting. Although I know better, I’m always drawn to anything slathered with a good frosting. I’m especially pleased when I get the corner piece of cake, as it’s got an extra one or two frosted sides.

    :-)

    Are you using any starches or gums in your rice flour mix? I’m not fond of that stuff, but find it sure adds to the texture of the baked good. When you eliminate gluten, you lose lots of good baking qualities.

  13. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    ONE MORE THING…

    I’m going to have to hire you as my sophisticated, worldly, culinary assistant. Your camembert creme fraiche salad sounds amazing. Have you shared this recipe with Miles? This should be on a menu somewhere.

    Thank you!
    xo

  14. Sounds like perfection in a salad to me. I just got some organic spinach yesterday. Not in massive quantities like you are though. ;-)

    I’ve been commenting from work (shhh, don’t tell). The different IP address seems to allow my comments to go through … most of the time. (Shirley crosses fingers before she hits “Submit.”)

    Shirley

  15. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    I don’t have any gums in the store cupboard but I used cornflour in with the rice flour and normal baking powder, which presumably isn’t gluten free. Another time I might try a bag of ready mixed gf flour and see what I end up with. Wonder what short bread biscuits would be like with this mix…. my grandmother always added some rice flour to her biscuits. All this experimenting means I won’t be losing weight any time soon but in the interest of science etc…. :)

    Cid

  16. Rayann says:

    Thanks for the recipe, Melissa. I made it for dinner this week, and it was awesome! It will definitely be in regular rotation through the CSA spinach season!

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