Simply delicious side dish: sauteed spinach with garlic

WE GET A PLATE OF CICORIA EVERY TIME Paul and I go to a restaurant. As usual, I’d never heard of this famous Roman specialty before we moved here but now I’m hooked. Sauteed with olive oil, garlic and sometimes red pepper flakes, it’s all at once rich and buttery, bitter and spicy. Plus it’s packed with iron. I’m not sure how to recreate this dish at home though and honestly, spinach is simply easier to come by. So when it comes to home cooking, spinach it is. In fact, I buy organic spinach that comes in frozen cubes for the fastest side dish in my repertoire.

For one cup of frozen spinach, I simply dice a large clove of garlic, add it to extra virgin olive oil in a pan for 1 minute, then throw in the thawed spinach. (I usually fill a coffee cup with frozen cubes and set it on the counter when the kids get up from their afternoon nap. You could certainly thaw overnight in the fridge or just use fresh.) Sautee in oil with a dash of salt and a good grind of pepper until the garlic is soft and spinach warmed through. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes.

Unfortunately Phoebe told me last night, “I’m getting very grown up. I’m think I’m too big for sin-ich”, this said as baby Estelle enjoyed mouthful after mouthful. But because the family policy is to try a bite of everything on your plate before dessert, which she usually declines anyway (whose kid is this?), in went a forkful. Followed by a miniature Oreo. You win some, you…

Now, about the Oreos. This was Phoebe’s second Oreo of her life but we do splurge on junk food here and there. It’s true that I want them to eat fresh, healthy food most of the time but I also want them to enjoy food in general, without getting weird about it. So we try not to to make a big deal out of things. She can try a bite of everything or not, which means she can eat one mini Oreo or not, but neither is a big deal. She does have to sit at the table with us, say grace, ask to be excused and bring her cup (it’s plastic and less likely to spill than the plate at age two) into the kitchen when we’re done. The dream of pleasant family dinners is just beginning (and progresses much faster on nights when Estelle doesn’t escape from her high chair) but that’s how it goes right? One bite at a time.

Bonus: 11 health benefits of eating spinach (from Eat This!)

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