The Frozen Vegetable That Saves Me Time, Money, and Fridge Space
Imagine if every time Popeye needed strength, he first had to double-rinse, drain, dry, de-stem, and then chop his spinach? While I don’t have any fighting prowess to uphold, prepping greens can be a real palooka in the patootie (or however Popeye would say it). Not to mention that in early April the leafy fuel isn’t exactly at its prime in the produce department.
For greener pastures, I like to venture past the $4 herbs and wilted lettuces and make my way to the Arctic tundra instead. The frozen section is where veggies aren’t only harvested at their peak, but are washed and prepped for convenience before being flash-frozen. It’s where I stock up on my secret weapon: frozen spinach.
Frozen spinach is the green booster in my otherwise pale banana-peanut butter smoothie and what flecks my eggs if I’m wanting a more savory breakfast. Come lunchtime, I’ll either boil a box of mac and cheese or reheat leftovers. If I add a chunk of frozen spinach to the steaming drained pasta, or slip some into a plate of takeout in the microwave, I feel like I’ve won the day. Then when I’m cooking dinner, frozen spinach is in my corner when I need a healthy green component or side dish.
I find that it’s a master of camouflage too, taking on whatever flavors I add with ease. I’ve added cooked spinach to coconut milk and curry powder, Parmesan and olive oil, chili crisp and honey, garlic and fish sauce, butter and Frank’s RedHot. No matter what I’m in the mood for, defrosted frozen spinach lays down the green carpet.
When choosing among the many options at the grocery store, the hardest decision is choosing between bagged or bricked. (This may or may not have resulted in a more comprehensive taste test to be featured on Kitchn in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!) If the loose pieces are scattered in a bag, they’re easier to pour/portion, but I’ve found they’re also more likely to get freezer burn. Instead, I usually buy bricks of frozen spinach.
When I only want to use a chunk, I microwave the brick just enough so that I can cut it with a chef’s knife (for less then a minute!). After I chop off the portion that I want to use, I divide the rest of the brick into single-serve cubes and pop them back into the freezer, either in a resealable bag or in the original spinach box. Then, the next time I need a bit of spinach, I have multiple servings ready to go.
My highly efficient cube system takes up less room in my fridge/freezer than those giant bunches of fresh spinach that cook down to basically nothing. I’ll save that space for steaks or potato salad.
I save money, too: A 10-ounce brick of frozen spinach at my supermarket is $1.99, whereas a plastic clamshell of fresh baby spinach is $5.99 for 10 ounces. So what if the salad spinner is under-employed these days? I’ve got stacks of green in my freezer.