Did you know that during the early 30's when Popeye was becoming popular, spinach consumption was up 33%? Just watching Popeye get his superhero strength from canned spinach made kids want to eat spinach themselves. Didn't you? It was pretty amazing what that spinach could do. I remember the first time I watched something with Popeye in it and wondering if I could get my mom to buy that stuff in a can that he's always eating. I'm sure I would have been pretty disappointed the first time I tried to squeeze the can and make the spinach pop out, not to mention that canned spinach is not what I would call spinach's finest form. Still, it's amazing that a TV show could make people eat a food that is so often on the "yuck" list. It makes me think that if Michelle Obama wants American youth to eat better, maybe she should have someone make a cartoon character that fights bad guys with foods high in fiber and antioxidants.
(I'm only partially kidding. E-mail me, Michelle, if you want some story ideas.)
Despite the fact that spinach can't make you dodge bullets and give you superhero strength, it still is pretty amazing stuff, and even though it is on a lot of people's "yuck" list, it really doesn't deserve to be there. There are so many ways to prepare it that I'm sure there has to be some way that is acceptable to pickier eaters. Even if you have to blend it into one of those green monster shakes. My favorite way to eat spinach is tied between eaten fresh in a salad with strawberries and poppyseed dressing and cooked down with butter and garlic. I had a lot of spinach salads this summer, and now that it's fall I'm leaning more toward the cooked option.
I love this dish because it turns that cooked spinach into a full meal and it takes little to no time to get together. The browned butter, garlic and Parmesan add great flavor and the pine nuts give the dish a nice crunch. If you are feeling ambitious and want to make your own gnocchi, feel free. Since this is usually a quick weeknight meal I tend to buy the packaged stuff that takes all of three minutes to cook. In all, it's a fast, easy, tasty meal that will get you out of the kitchen quickly and on your way to fighting bad guys, saving Olive Oyl, and using your superhero strength to make the world a better place.