5 Ways to Cook with Frozen Spinach

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My farmers market closed months ago and it won't reopen until the end of April. What's a vegetable-loving girl to do? There are plenty of fruits and vegetables in the grocery store, but they're not always at the peak of freshness. This time of year, I often opt for frozen vegetables which, although they sometimes lack the virtues of the summer-fresh stuff, carry other benefits, like convenience.

Let's talk about those vegetables and other goodies that get squirreled away in the freezer. It's time to pull them out and put them to good use. Let's start with spinach, shall we?

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Frozen spinach is a constant staple in my freezer. I like its convenience; it's pre-chopped and blanched, so it's ready to throw into all kinds of dishes.

Beyond just cooking it plain in the microwave or in a skillet, here are a few favorite ways to put that spinach to good use.

Frozen spinach tip: After thawing frozen spinach (or any frozen leafy green) press out the water with a potato ricer! - Read more here.

1. Bake into an egg casserole.

I make a breakfast egg casserole nearly every week, and frozen spinach, thawed and pressed dry, makes a great addition.

2. Stir into soup, stew, chili, and curry.

Nearly any soup, chili, stew, or curry can benefit from the addition of a few ounces of spinach. You don't even need to thaw it; just stir in chunks and let them warm in the soup or stew. This is a great way to pack a significant amount of vegetables into a dish, since even a pound of spinach will cook down quickly.

3. Stuff pasta or mix into a pasta casserole.

Since frozen spinach is already blanched, once it is thawed and dried I find that it doesn't make casseroles soggy the way fresh spinach does as it releases its moisture.

4. Top pizza.

I like to throw thawed spinach by the handful on top of homemade pizza, with lots of red pepper flakes!

5. In any dish that calls for blanched spinach.

All these specific dishes aside, however, I feel like frozen spinach is a great year-round shortcut for any recipe that calls for blanched spinach. I think of favorites like ohitashi, the Japanese dish of blanched spinach with soy sauce, or the classic Southern creamed spinach. You can save time by using well-drained thawed spinach instead of blanching fresh spinach.

These are of course just a few ideas — you could also add frozen spinach to smoothies, sauces, and other blended foods, or bake it into savory muffins, or use it in a whole host of other recipes. What's your favorite way to use frozen spinach? Do you keep it in your freezer all the time, like me?

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What's in your freezer? Is there a bag of frozen corn or spinach, or a container of chicken stock you've forgotten about? In the cold winter months your own freezer is a great resource for good meals. Let's shop our freezers together and see what they can do for our weeknight cooking.

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(Image credits: Faith Durand)