No. 5: Spinach
The Iron Man of the vegetable world, spinach is loaded with the ferrous mineral. To maximise uptake of its iron, eat it with other iron sources such as red meat or beans if you're vegetarian.
Possibly the best combination for sheer good taste as well iron uptake is fegato di vitello alla Veneziana (calves' liver Venetian style) with creamed spinach. Dine on that and you won't be able to walk past a magnet. For the spinach, rinse a bunch in water, throw it in a pot with olive oil, crushed garlic and cracked pepper, cook it until it crumples, add cream and reduce. Finish it with a squeeze of lemon juice and shake of salt. As children, we never had fegato di vitello alla Veneziana, but we had its second cousin, lamb's fry. Same dish, different animal. I liked it. It was good for your jaws. My mother overcooked it. You could have used the leftovers as doorstops. (A common complaint, it is nevertheless understandable that food was often overcooked in that era because of the common fear of spreading disease or causing poisoning through undercooking.) Nowadays we are far more educated and sophisticated; we outsource the poisoning to the Chinese, who supply us with fruit bathed in their sewage.
Couldn't end that paragraph fast enough. Now back to spinach. My top five spinach recipes, aside from the above:
5. Salad of baby spinach leaves, avocado, spring onions, halved cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil. Toss and eat. Simple and unpretentious but good.
3. Spanakopita (Made there with silverbeet)
2. Spicy spinach paneer, and the champion:
1. Spinach with caramelised onions and butter beans:
Slice and fry a large onion in olive oil until caramelised. Meanwhile, warm three crushed garlic cloves in olive oil in another pan. Rinse 250g spinach and add to the pan, cooking in their retained water until they wilt. Add a drained can of butter beans, the caramelised onions, salt and plenty of pepper. A dash of chili powder if you like. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the pan, and cook until warmed through. Serve as a side dish to Greek sausages – loukanika – (T-Deli, Sydney Road), then go out and run a marathon.