Would you believe this salad was made mainly using produce available in the middle of winter? Yep. And let me tell you, it's definitely winter in Wisconsin right now, we've probably had a foot of snow since this morning!
So it's #3 of my Winter Locavore series, and I'm sharing a recipe for a salad built around local ingredients, as well as some suggestions for using frost-sweetened spinach.
I had my eye on the frost sweetened spinach at the winter Dane County Farmer's Market for awhile, but was hesitant to buy because at $5 per 1/2 lb, it seemed a bit pricey.
HOWEVER, I was offered the chance to sample a piece of spinach and, as they clearly knew it would, it hooked me. After buying a few bags I can confidently say that I really get some bang for my buck with it. 1/2 lb of spinach is actually a lot more than it looks like in the bag!
Also, I think it's a wonderful way to get some local greens in the wintertime, when greens are in short supply.
So what is frost sweetened spinach?
Spinach in general is a cool weather crop. Frost sweetened spinach is spinach that has been grown in greenhouses in winter, alternately letting the spinach freeze and warm so that it develops a sweet flavour and thick leaves. I got mine from Snug Haven Farm at the Dane County Farmer's Market, they're based in Wisconsin. I've heard that they have a winter spinach CSA, but I haven't found recent info on this. I'll try to ask them this weekend if they're at the market again and share the deets with you.
Also, I've found that it seems to last longer in the crisper of the fridge than regular spinach. Since it's not as flimsy as regular spinach, it seems to keep longer without getting gross, smelly and soggy.
What does frost sweetened spinach taste like?
Like regular spinach, but sweeter and with a thicker, larger leaf. You can kind of see this in the photo below. It's got more substance to it than regular spinach. Almost chewy.
|Frost-Sweetened Spinach Leaf|
So what can you do with frost sweetened spinach?
I use mine for a few different things usually:
* chopped into omelets and scrambled eggs
* on sandwiches instead of lettuce
* mixed with other greens into salads
* the winter salad (recipe below)
Of course, there are many other ways you can use spinach, but for $5 / 0.5 lb, I don't want to steam or bake it and loose all that goodness, I want to enjoy it fresh and sweet!
So the main way I use it to showcase it's sweetness is with a winter version of my Tropical Fall Salad , made with steamed butternut squash and greens.
|Tropical Winter Salad with Local Spinach and Sweet Potatoes|
Instead of butternut squash, I used local sweet potatoes (I think the producer is Don's Produce?) I got a 3lb bag of these for $5 at the farmer's market. So for the next post I'll be showcasing sweet potatoes!
To make the Winter Salad:
Ingredients: (makes 1 meal sized salad)
2 handfuls frost sweetened spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 medium sweet potato
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
1/4 c cashews (or other nuts)
1 recipe of Coconut Lime Dressing
1. Peel and chop the sweet potato into 1" chunks. Steam over boiling water in a steamer or metal strainer for 5 - 8 minutes, until soft.
2. On a large plate or in a bowl, add the spinach, potato, cranberries and cashews. Drizzle with coconut lime dressing. Enjoy!
For more in the Winter Locavore series, check out:
Part 1: Where to Find Local Foods in Winter
Part 2a: Quick Dill Pickled Watermelon Radishes
Part 2b: 5 Ways to Use Radishes
Have you tried frost sweetened spinach? How do you get your greens in winter?
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