Our kitchen garden cook reveals her favourite spinach recipes.

My homegrown spinach becomes very gritty, even after a thorough wash, unless I pick it while the leaves are still small and young. I think it tastes better then, too, so my advice is to harvest early and keep replanting for an ongoing supply of these vitamin-rich, dark-green leaves throughout the summer.

Spinach, lemon and Parmesan pearl-barley risotto (serves 4)

Ingredients
20ml olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
300g pearl barley
200ml white wine
1 litre chicken stock
250g fresh baby spinach, washed
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
100g Parmesan, grated
2tbsp crème fraîche
Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped

Method
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan and fry the diced onion until translucent rather than browned, then add the crushed garlic and pearl barley and stir well until every grain is coated with olive oil. Pour in the white wine it will sizzle, but keep stirring until it’s fully absorbed then add the chicken stock, in one go, and bring to a gentle boil before lowering the temperature. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the barley is tender, remembering to add the spinach just before all the liquid has been absorbed.

Once cooked, squeeze the lemon juice over it, add the crème fraîche, fresh basil, grated Parmesan and mix all the ingredients through well, before topping the risotto off with a scattering of lemon zest and more Parmesan. Serve for lunch with fresh rolls and salad or as a dinner-party starter.

More ways with spinach

Korean spinach salad with sesame dressing
Wilt 200g of spinach by placing it in a colander and pouring boiling water on it. Leave it to drain and then pile the spinach in the centre of a plate. For the dressing, lightly toast 50g sesame seeds in a frying pan, then blitz in a food processor with 2tbspn soy sauce, 2tbspn rice vinegar and 1tbspn sugar to form a paste to drizzle over the spinach. Scatter a few extra toasted sesame seeds on top.

Deep-filled spinach frittata
Fry a sliced red onion in a little olive oil in a large, ovenproof frying pan. Add a chopped red pepper, chopped courgette, seasoning, 1tbspn pesto and about 10 cooked and sliced new potatoes, then fry until cooked and heated through, before adding a handful of garden peas and two handfuls of fresh spinach. Beat 8 eggs in a bowl and pour into the pan over the vege-tables. Stir everything together, then allow the eggs to set, like an omelette, and cook for about 10 minutes. Scatter grated cheese over the top and pop the frittata under the grill until it’s cooked through and the cheese has melted. Serve with salad leaves and crusty rolls.

 

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