Spinach, citrus and feta salad

The only spinach in my childhood was a frozen puree. I had no idea what the plant looked like and it is a testimony to my parents’ cooking skills that they were able to turn the indiscernible khaki mass into something their offspring was willing to eat.

I am grateful to have a garden to grow my own spinach (for now). However, growing spinach has been difficult in the unseasonably hot springs we’ve had in the past years. The plants bolted fast and the harvests were small – autumn sowings were a better bet. But in this year’s unseasonably cold spring, spinach has thrived. Until this week that is, when the temperature rose suddenly, but I will not complain about that because yesterday I went swimming outside with my son for the first time and that really is a nice change from the winter coats we had to wear too long. The warm weather does not really inspire me to turn on the heat in the kitchen especially since the sun shines right into the kitchen in the afternoon and it is unbearably hot as is. So, we eat a lot of salad.
This spinach salad, I admit, will hardly make a dinner, but for lunch, with a piece of bread, it’s perfect. Besides, wouldn’t it be a crime to cook those perfect baby leaves? For a little color I added some purple orache (Atriplex hortensis), a close family of spinach, which is one of those plants that you only ever have to sow once, then allow a few plants to raise to seed and you’ll never be without it.

Spinach, citrus and feta salad
Adapted from Nigel Slater: Tender vol.1

For each person, wash a good double handful of spinach (or a mixture of spinach and orache) leaves. Peel and thickly slice a large orange (or a pink grapefruit) catching as much of the juice as you can. Make a dressing with some of the juice, olive and walnut oil in equal amounts and a little bit of black pepper. Toss the leaves and orange slices in the dressing, then crumble over the feta cheese, keeping the pieces quite large. Sprinkle some lightly toasted pumpkin seeds on top.

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