Italian Sautéed Baby Spinach recipe is a super fast and easy side dish perfect next to all kinds of meats. Made with minced garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Such a fun way to eat your greens.
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In my years of supporting clients with their weight loss goals, two of the biggest challenges with vegetables were the need for quick preparation and boredom with eating the same veggies over and over.
I always completely understood because I can’t tell you how easy it was for me to slip into a pattern of always buying and preparing the same veggies.
If I didn’t stay on top of my menu planning, I would become insanely bored and then I would cheat like nobody’s business.
Also, who isn’t constantly on the go nowadays?
Some of my favorite veggie based recipes, that I can always count on for being quick and healthy are Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich, Shrimp and Broccoli Stir Fry, Egg Roll In a Bowl, Veggie Loaded Taco Casserole and this Wilted Spinach Recipe.
How To Make Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Parmesan
- Add oil to a large frying pan. Place over medium/low heat.
- Add minced garlic and red chili pepper flakes (optional). Cook until garlic becomes aromatic and starts to bubble, about 2-3 mins.
- Add in 1/3 of spinach and sauté until just beginning to wilt.
- Continue working in batches sautéing until all spinach is wilted.
- Turn off heat and stir in parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
Variations of Italian Sautéed Baby Spinach
- Lemon Zest Twist- Add a burst of freshness by incorporating lemon zest just before serving. The citrusy notes complement the richness of the Parmesan.
- Nutty Crunch- Sprinkle toasted pine nuts or chopped almonds over the finished dish for added crunch and a subtle nutty flavor.
- Creamy Upgrade- Mix in a tablespoon of cream or a dollop of Greek yogurt for a creamier texture. This variation adds a luscious element to the dish.
- Spinach Salad- Add chickpeas or white beans to turn it into a salad.
- Dip- Mix with Greek yogurt and use as a veggie dip or sandwich spread.
Tips and Hints
- Garlic Infusion- To maximize the garlic flavor in your sautéed spinach, infuse the olive oil by letting the minced garlic simmer in it for a minute or two before adding the spinach. This creates a robust garlic base that permeates the entire dish.
- Chili Pepper Kick- For those who enjoy a bit of heat, don’t skip the red chili pepper flakes. They add a subtle kick to the spinach without overpowering the dish. Adjust the quantity based on your spice preference.
- Freshness Matters- While pre-washed baby spinach is a time-saver, make sure to inspect for any lingering debris or wilted leaves. Fresh spinach ensures a vibrant color and optimal flavor in the final dish.
- Perfect Parmesan- Opt for freshly grated Parmesan for a richer and more intense flavor. The finely grated texture ensures even distribution, giving every bite a cheesy punch.
- Quick Wilt Method- To speed up the wilting process, cover the pan briefly after adding each batch of spinach. This traps steam, helping the leaves wilt faster while retaining their vibrant green color.
What to Serve With Italian Sautéed Baby Spinach
This Spinach Side Dish goes great next to all kinds of meat dishes such as:
- Best Rib Eye Steak Recipe
- Mom’s Classic Meatloaf
- Greek Chicken
- Cherry Chicken
- Rosemary Lamb Chops
- Crispy Baked Pork Chops
How to Make a Sautéed Spinach Recipe That Isn’t Bitter
Here are a few tricks to help avoid bitter spinach:
- Use Baby Spinach– Since baby spinach is harvested earlier than regular spinach it tends to be sweeter, tender and smaller in size, allowing it to cook faster.
- Don’t Over Cook– Cooking until just wilted helps to control bitterness.
- Use Citrus– To brighten up the side dish use a little lemon or orange juice.
Storing and Preserving Your Sautéed Spinach
Once you’ve savored the delightful flavors of your sautéed spinach, knowing how to store it properly ensures you can enjoy its goodness for later. Here are some tips to keep your dish fresh and delicious:
- Refrigeration- Transfer any leftover sautéed spinach to an airtight container or sealable bag. Refrigerate promptly to prevent bacterial growth. Stored correctly, sautéed spinach can last in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
- Avoid Overcrowding- Ensure your leftovers are spread out in the container rather than tightly packed. This prevents the spinach from becoming overly compacted, which could affect its texture when reheated.
- Reheating- When ready to enjoy your leftover sautéed spinach, gently reheat it in a pan on the stove over medium heat. Avoid using high heat to prevent the spinach from becoming overly wilted or losing its vibrant color. A quick sauté for a few minutes should revive the flavors.
- Freezing Option- While sautéed spinach is best enjoyed fresh, you can freeze it for longer storage. Place cooled spinach in a freezer-safe bag, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Frozen sautéed spinach can last for up to 3 months.
- Thawing- To thaw frozen sautéed spinach, transfer it to the refrigerator a day before reheating. This gradual thawing helps maintain the dish’s texture. Once thawed, follow the reheating instructions mentioned above.
- Flavor Enhancements- If you find that the flavors have mellowed after storage, consider refreshing the dish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or an extra sprinkle of Parmesan when reheating. This can bring back some of the original vibrancy.
Meal Prep Mastery with Sautéed Spinach
Sautéed spinach is not only a quick and delicious side dish but also a versatile ingredient that can elevate your weekly meal prep game. Here are some savvy meal prep ideas and tips to make the most out of your sautéed spinach throughout the week:
Bulk Preparation- Consider preparing a larger batch of sautéed spinach during your meal prep session. This initial investment of time pays off in the convenience of having a versatile and healthy component readily available.
Portion Control- Divide the sautéed spinach into individual portions suitable for your typical serving size. This not only streamlines the reheating process but also helps with portion control if you’re mindful of your daily intake.
Freezer-Friendly Portions- For longer storage, portion the sautéed spinach into freezer-safe containers or sealable bags. Label each container with the date for easy tracking. This way, you can pull out a serving whenever you need a quick and nutritious addition to your meal.
Standalone Side Dish- Enjoy the sautéed spinach as a standalone side dish. Pair it with grilled chicken, fish, or tofu for a well-balanced meal. Having pre-portioned spinach makes it effortless to add a nutritious side to your lunch or dinner.
Pasta and Grain Booster- Mix sautéed spinach into cooked pasta, rice, or quinoa for an instant boost of flavor and nutrients. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan for a simple yet satisfying meal.
Breakfast Delight- Incorporate sautéed spinach into your breakfast routine. Create a spinach and feta omelet or stir it into scrambled eggs for a protein-packed and veggie-filled start to your day.
Wrap and Sandwich Filling- Use sautéed spinach as a filling for wraps or sandwiches. Whether you’re crafting a lunchtime wrap or a morning breakfast sandwich, the savory spinach adds a burst of flavor and nutrition.
Pizza Topping- Transform your favorite homemade pizza by adding sautéed spinach as a topping. Spread it over the pizza crust before baking for a nutritious twist on a classic favorite.
Soup and Stew Addition- Stir sautéed spinach into soups or stews just before serving. The wilted spinach enhances the texture and adds a nutritional punch to your favorite hearty soup recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use frozen spinach instead of fresh?
While fresh baby spinach is recommended for its vibrant texture, you can use frozen spinach as a substitute. Thaw and drain it thoroughly before sautéing, but be aware that the texture may differ slightly.
How can I make this dish less spicy?
Simply omit the red chili pepper flakes for a milder version. If you still want a hint of heat, start with a small pinch and adjust according to your taste.
Can I use olive oil spray instead of oil?
Yes, just use enough to lightly coat the pan.
What if I don’t have chili flakes?
Leave them out or substitute crushed red pepper.
Can I prepare this dish in advance?
Sautéed spinach is best enjoyed fresh, but you can prep the garlic-infused oil and have the spinach washed and ready ahead of time for a quicker cooking process.
Italian Sautéed Baby Spinach
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic *minced, about 2 tbsp
- 1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes *optional
- 16 oz baby spinach *pre-washed
- 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place a large frying pan over medium/low heat. Add oil, garlic and chili pepper flakes. Cook until garlic and chili flakes just start to become fragant and just begin to bubble.
- Working in batches, add in 1/3 of spinach and sauté until just wilted. Continue with the process until all spinach has been added and cook just until last batch is wilted.
- Take off heat and stir in parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.