Spinach is a nutritious dark green vegetable that can be eaten both cooked or uncooked. As a leafy vegetable, spinach is often added to main dishes but can also be served as a side. It’s low in calories and has tons of iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and magnesium.
How To Make Spinach On The Stovetop
Sautéing is the best method for cooking spinach since spinach naturally contains a lot of water. When you sauté spinach, you actually put its high water content to use as the spinach releases liquid when it comes into contact with the hot pan.
Most of the time sautéing on a stovetop involves at least a teaspoon of oil. But when it comes to spinach, a cooking fat is unnecessary. The spinach is already so full of liquid that it releases water which protects the leaves as they cook. Adding an oil will just make your spinach kind of greasy, so to preserve the fresh spinach texture as best as possible, sautéing in oil is not recommended.
Step 1 – Prepare The Spinach
Use a knife to cut the thick stems from the base of each leaf, or snap the stems off by hand. Next, fill a bowl with cold water, gently stirring the leaves through the water to dislodge any dirt and allow debris to sink to the bottom. Remove the spinach leaves from the bowl and dry them with a clean towel or paper towel.
Step 2 – Cook In A Wide Frying Pan
Pick out a pan with a wide diameter so that as much spinach can be exposed to heat as possible. Since spinach is lush and fluffy, a pan with high sides will help prevent your leaves from overflowing. You want to use a pan that’s wide enough that the spinach leaves will wilt evenly and evaporate excess water quickly. Sauté the spinach uncovered for the few minutes required, keeping an eye out for speedy wilting.
Step 3 – Continue Layering Spinach Into Your Pan
Add uncooked spinach to the pan as the cooked spinach begins to wilt. The spinach in the pan should cook fast, and become easy to maneuver. Continue adding spinach to the pan as more room is created.
Step 4 – Cool Spinach
After the spinach is cooked, move it to a plate and spread the clusters of leaves out evenly. Leave the spinach to cool to discourage leaves from continuing to cook in the remaining heat.
Step 5 (Optional) – Squeeze Out Excess Water
If the spinach is going into another recipe (like a filling), you’ll want to squeeze the extra water out. Once the spinach on the plate cools, collect it into a ball and wring the water out over the sink.
For frozen spinach, cooking will take longer (4-6 minutes). Frozen spinach should make a hissing sound and produce some steam when it hits the pan, but if the spinach creates a large amount of steam or makes loud popping sounds, the pan is too hot and heat should be reduced. If the spinach is frozen together in a block of ice, it will have to be broken up slowly in its pan with a metal or wooden spoon. (Don’t worry if this leaves a lot of melted water in your pan since this is harmless and can be drained later.)
Stovetop Spinach Recipes
- For a flavorful spinach main dish, try Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Lemon, which is great on its own or in addition to chicken or steak dishes.
- Vegans can try out Sautéed Spinach in Fennel Tomato Sauce, a variation of a typical Bengali stir fry.
- A party favorite, Spinach and Artichoke Dip is a more advanced recipe that makes for a thick, creamy, cheesy dip, that’s perfect for sharing.