For many baby-boomers, the constant refrain of “Eat your spinach, it’s good for you!” and the olive green glop of canned vegetable that accompanied the words, led to life-long spinach avoidance. Well now is the time, if you haven’t already, to overcome your spinach phobia. One nibble of a local farmer’s sweet and vibrant fresh spinach will do the
The first spinach you see every spring is most likely from seeds that your farmer planted
late last fall. Those seeds germinate and barely start to put down roots before the frigid
weather descends and they go into dormancy under the ice and snow. At the first hint of
spring, however, they start growing like mad, and soon the leaves are huge, thick, juicy
and sweet—unbelievably rich and meaty. You really have to taste it to believe it.
If great taste alone is not enough, remember that spinach is high in vitamins A and C, and
in iron and folate. It is also a good source of fiber and magnesium, and is very low in
calories. And if you’re still not convinced, wine fortified with spinach juice was the
healing elixir traditionally given to injured French soldiers. And the Persians, who
cultivated the leafy green from at least the 6th century, recognized spinach’s
sophistication and called it “the prince of vegetables.”
Spinach Salade Lyonnaise
The best thing to do with any fresh vegetable is almost nothing. But I confess that I have
become dangerously enamored of this Fresh Spinach Salade Lyonnaise. It is quick and
easy to make, yet fit for a king with the combination of meaty-leaved spinach, crisp
bacon, barely cooked eggs, and warm, sharp Dijon vinaigrette. (If you want to go
vegetarian or vegan, just leave out the bacon and egg, adding another few tablespoons of
olive oil to the dressing.) Keep this salad in mind when fall greens like frisee, escarole,
and radicchio roll around because the hot dressing will soften and sweeten those sturdy
4 cups torn spinach, or a mixture of spinach, lettuce, escarole, and other greens
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
About 1/4 pound (or less) good bacon or ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 to 4 tablespoons sherry or wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1. Put greens in a large salad bowl. Put olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot,
add the bacon and cook slowly until crisp all over, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and
mustard to the skillet and bring just to a boil, stirring, then turn off heat.
2. Meanwhile, bring a couple inches of salted water to a boil in a small pan, then lower
heat to barely bubbling. One at a time, break eggs into a shallow bowl and slip them into
the bubbling water. Poach the eggs for 2 minutes, until the white is set but the yolk is still
runny. Remove each egg with a slotted spoon, and place onto the greens.
3. Pour the bacon dressing over the greens (they’ll wilt a bit). Toss the salad, breaking the
yolks of the poached eggs and distributing them evenly over the spinach. Season with salt
and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, with croutons or toast if you like.
Seasonal Cook’s Notes:
Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main course.
©The Land Connection Foundation
The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local community farmer.
To locate the farmers’ market or CSA nearest you, visit www.localharvest.org.
Farm Fresh Now! is a project of The Land Connection, an educational nonprofit that preserves
farmland, trains new farmers, and connects people with great locally-grown foods. This series is made possible with generous support from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Farm Fresh Now! Secrets of the Seasonal Cook is copyright The Land Connection Foundation
and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. All use of the articles and artwork in this series must be attributed to The Land Connection Foundation using the text provided above (all text and links before the End of Article line). Article by Terra Brockman, photo by Cara Cummings