Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Dish: Sauteed Spinach

The ubiquitous side dish of sauteed spinach is always a favorite of mine. I probably get it from my father who is the only person I know who attempts to order it at any type of restaurant in the world. I think he finally learned his lesson at Japanese restaurants though. Making sauteed spinach is one of the easiest things a home cook can do, and you most often find it in Italian, American, and Bistro type of restaurants. Standard ingredient include olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and that's about it. Some restaurants do different spins on the standard, adding lemon juice, pancetta or bacon and other small additions. I personally think the best versions have 1 key difference: how the garlic is cut. Some places chop up the garlic, some use whole cloves, but the best are the razor thin slices that are almost transparent. Imagine Paulie from Goodfellas slicing the garlic in prison with a razor blade and then putting it in the frying pan with the spinach. The garlic absorbs some olive oil, become soft and sweet, and you don't even realize you are eating a piece of it, yet get the full flavor of it with each bite.

The best side dish of sauteed spinach I've ever had exist at Roberto's in the Bronx. The original Little Italy on Arthur Ave, Roberto's is the best in the area and maybe the best Italian in the city. But that is another blog entry. Their spinach includes olive oil, razor thing slices of garlic, a little salt and pepper, lemon juice, capers, and the secret ingredient - anchovies. I know, most of you just said "yuck" out loud, but anchovies are a great way to add saltiness and a distinct flavor that is not as fishy as most people think. The spinach is in fact not fishy at all, but has a distinct taste that only the anchovies natural saltiness brings out of the spinach. Amazingly, it is extremely easy to recreate this dish at home, and makes a perfect side dish to just about any meal. Any meal that is, except for sushi.

The King of Side Dishes


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