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Young Spinach

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Illustrations by John Burgoyne  

“Young” spinach (as opposed to the baby, middle-aged, and tin-canned Popeye varieties) has arrived at Yuno’s farm stand at the Greenmarket. Flavor-wise, it’s not that different from thicker, overwintered spinach (also available at Yuno’s and throughout the markets, and best for cooking), but it is much more tender, and thus ideal for salads. Try a bunch in this delicious recipe from Bryan Calvert, the chef-owner of James in Prospect Heights.

Bryan Calvert’s Spinach Salad

3/4 lb. young spinach
6 oz. shiitake mushrooms
6 small (half-dollar-size) cipollini onions
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 sprig rosemary
2 tbs. good-quality balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs. blended olive oil
1 tbs. fresh thyme or lemon thyme, chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 tsp. lemon zest

(1) Remove large stems and bruised leaves from spinach and discard. Wash spinach in ice water and dry in salad spinner. Refrigerate until ready to toss. Remove stems from shiitake mushrooms. Peel cipollini onions and (2) cut them in half across the equator. Sauté mushrooms in blended olive oil over medium heat until tender. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Remove from pan and hold at room temperature. Wipe out pan, add a touch of olive oil, and cook onions split-side down over medium heat until golden brown. Add garlic, rosemary, and balsamic vinegar. Cook until onions are tender and balsamic is slightly reduced; cool to room temperature. (3) Assemble salad by tossing in a large bowl the spinach, mushrooms, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pine nuts, and lemon zest. Add 1 tablespoon of the balsamic reduction and the extra-virgin olive oil. Season and garnish with the onions.


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