I’m strong to the finish when I eats me spinach

Spinach salad with walnuts, gorgonzola and balsamic vinaigrette

Oil, meet vinegar… in the proper proportions, 3:1. With salt and pepper and that’s it.

March 2: Spinach Salad With Walnuts, Crumbled Gorgonzola, and Balsamic Vinaigrette

I am happy to report that last night’s salad, a dinner for one, was a winner! No recipes, no florid prose promises of cookbook authors. I made it up myself, and served it with a couple of slices of ciabatta bread schmeared with (leftover) parsley-walnut pesto.

I bought a bag of dark green, young spinach leaves. I had walnuts. I had good fruity green olive oil, Lucero Miller’s Blend from California, and good balsamic vinegar, Passione from Modena, Italy. Some crumbled cheese would be good too, I thought, and went to Philbrick’s for gorgonzola and a fresh loaf of bread.

Gorgonzola is creamy but with a bleu cheese bite so it matched the flavor of the spinach leaf, which is stronger than lettuces.

Winter farmers market

Spinach, $5 a bag from Heron Pond Farm at the winter farmers market in the greenhouse at Rolling Green nursery yesterday.

There were more potatoes than greens, being late winter. And the market overall had more other stuff than actual local farm produce. Nice that we could purchase a pastry and a cup of coffee, or bowl of soup, or container of guacamole, or bag of flavored popcorn colored pink or green, but what makes it worth the special visit then? I’m “buying local” when I go to a restaurant that makes its own soup.

I have five chickens (three breeds) and I’m fascinated with breeds and egg colors and how people raise their chickens and what they know that I don’t yet, so I asked a couple of egg sellers what breeds they had… and they didn’t know!

“A mix of heritage breeds” was the best one girl could do. Okay, she was probably a high school kid helping out. But why I am making the trip if I can’t pester the vendors with questions about where and how they raise their crops and animals??

(See Portlandia, Is this chicken local? and have a laugh on me.)

haul

Mm, bacon. Not the most balanced or economical  shopping trip.

Speaking of animals, I came home with a pound of bacon and four large links of Italian sausage (I am very supportive of local-farm-raised animals, for a number of reasons), plus a bag of coffee and some chai to go (my daughter was with me and that’s hers), versus one medium-small bag of spinach. I guess I haven’t successfully refocused my attention on greens yet!

“Farmers market.” Are these some kind of magic words for me, making me feel good about going there and raising my expectations of what I will get out of it? Stewing this over, I decided it would be better to consistently support a local store that is nearby, with convenient hours, that sells the fresh, quality foods I want – much of it sourced locally. That would be Philbrick’s.

popeye

No post on spinach would be complete without mentioning its nutritional aspects.

According to a fascinating site called World’s Healthiest Foods

Among the World’s Healthiest vegetables, spinach comes out at the top of our ranking list for nutrient richness. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it is also concentrated in health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids to provide you with powerful antioxidant protection.

Spinach is one of the foods that have the most pesticide residues when farmed conventionally rather than organically. (Here’s a list.) Also, there have been problems with e. coli and salmonella. So it seems worth it to buy organic or grow your own.

For the past couple of summers we have had good luck in the garden with a spinach variety called America, from Seed Savers Exchange. Plant in early spring. It’s slow to bolt and drought resistant. Not that drought is usually a problem around here. It’s snowing at the moment, with a good chance of rain later today.

Better to be strong than pretty and useless. – Lilith Saintcrow