Spinach is a hearty, cool-weather crop that does well when planted and harvested in early spring or fall. It reacts strongly to changes in day length and will bolt and blossom in long, hot summer days. When this happens, the taste becomes very bitter. However when the weather is cool enough, it matures quickly. Spinach has a low calorie count (20 calories per average serving). It also provides an adult with 100 percent of vitamin A, 56 percent of vitamin C and 28 percent of iron recommended as average daily requirements. Spinach is arguably most famous for its appearance in Popeye cartoons. The idea that spinach made Popeye strong was a result of a misprint from a study by Dr E von Wolf in 1870. This study claimed that spinach had 10 times the amount of iron that it actually does. Despite its history of misprints, spinach remains a very nutritional and versatile vegetable. Spinach is prepared in a variety of ways; it’s good raw in salads, boiled, sauteed, or steamed, to name a few.
Recipe: Fresh Spinach and Basil Ricotta Lasgna
9 lasagna noodles
2 cups classic tomato and basil pasta sauce
2 cups steamed young, flat, coarsley chopped spinach leaves
20 large, minced basil leaves
2 tablespoons flour
2 (15 oz) containers ricotta cheese (about 3 1/3 cups)
1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 large basil leaves cut into thin strips
Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease 8-inch square baking dish. Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Lay noodles flay in single layer on paper towels. Set aside. While noodles are cooking, simmer sauce in a 10-inch skillet until slightly thickened and reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 7 minutes. Put spinach, basil, flour, ricotta, 1/3 cup parmesan, salt and pepper flakes in a large bowl and mix well. To assemble, cut noodles to fit prepared dish, using scraps as needed to make a solid noodle layer. Line bottom of dish with noodles. Spread with half of ricotta mixture, then spread 1/2 cup sauce over ricotta. Repeat layers, ending with noodles and sauce. Cover with foil. Bake, cover for 40 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle surface with basil leaves. Source: www.cooks.com
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