This is probably the fastest, easiest, and healthiest veggie side dish you can ever serve. It is also the shortest post of everything I have done so far. That’s because there are only two ingredients to it, and there is nothing you have to do other than to throw them together, season,cover, and put in the oven. There is no cutting, chopping, dicing, slicing, or mixing of any kind involved.
I love spinach prepared in every which way, from raw to overcooked. I love the traditional Tuscan combination of creamy cannellini beans with spinach, either as a soup or a side dish. I have experimented pairing up spinach with all kinds or beans, and even green peas, and somehow it wasn’t working. Until one day I thought, from a purely aesthetic point, of a yellow accent on all this green. At first I sprinkled just a few kernels of corn, for the visual effect. Because the corn had been frozen, I put it in a barely warm oven for a couple of minutes. Eurica! That was the great discovery! Corn got warmed up, spinach got softer and slightly wilted, and the two complemented each other perfectly.
A sprinkle of just a few kernels was definitely not enough, so I kept increasing the amount of corn until I came up with what we consider a perfect proportion. Feel free to find your own by trial and error. It all depends on your own taste buds! As with the beans, I prefer fresh frozen corn, and I don’t defrost it beforehand because it gets too soft and watery. You want it somewhat crunchy, a nice contrast to softened spinach.
Now this mess needed a touch of herbs. A Tuscan spinach and beans dish is practically married to rosemary, but rosemary and corn? That didn’t sound right, and tasted totally wrong. I have tried everything and finally concluded that mint was best as it added a burst of cool freshness further brought out by freshly grounded black pepper. The runner up was basil that contributed sweetness. Together they were not user-friendly, so it’s one or the other – your choice. Don’t cut it, just tear up leaves and throw them on top. Ground black pepper, a pinch of salt, cover firmly, and you are ready.
This has become our favorite side dish on Friday night, especially during the summer when you can’t even make Kiddush until very late, and with all the appetizers, and soup, by the time you get to the main dish, it’s close to 10:00 pm already. You are so full and sleepy that you definitely do not want anything starchy, carby, and heavy. I usually turn my oven on 175 about 15 – 20 minutes before bentching licht and put all the Shabbos food in. This way, by the time you are ready for it, the spinach comes out just barely cooked, as it should be. If you want to, you might also sprinkle it with just a few drops of lemon juice before serving. Leftovers are great cold as a salad, dressed with just lemon juice.
Obviously, I can’t take pictures on Shabbos, so I took a small part of the uncooked dish, cooked it, and took a picture. As you see, spinach is not really cooked, and that’s how it should look. It’s a great side dish for fish or chicken, but not a good companion for meat.
- 4 cups of uncooked baby spinach (about 4 oz)
- 1 cup of frozen corn (alternative – 1 can, drained well)
- Fresh mint or basil to taste, about 1/2 cup, torn into peaces.
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Place washed, checked, and dried spinach in a deep baking dish. Remember to use the dish that you will already serve in because you won’t be able to transfer it.
- Randomly sprinkle corn over spinach.
- Tear mint or basil leaves and scatter them randomly over spinach and corn.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover tightly and place in the oven on minimal temperature for a few minutes or leave it on middle rack until time to serve.
- Optional: a few drops of lemon juice right before serving.