This is a quick post for an easy, fast and spinach-packed side dish. It's the type of thing I get excited about - simple, but bold on flavor. Even better, all the ingredients come together in one pan. I stumbled on this recipe for Coconut-laced Spiced Spinach as I was flipping through Anjum Anand's book new book, in early 2011. Not much more than ten minutes later, we were sitting down to the table with it as part of our meal. I’ve cooked variations of in endlessly in the years since.
Spiced Coconut Spinach: The Technique
The key here is having all your ingredients cleaned, prepped and ready to go. You toast a few spices, add a pile of shredded spinach to the skillet, and finish things off with a burst of lemon juice and golden-toasted coconut.
A Few Ideas
I think I'm so excited about this in part because it is so versatile. While it makes a great side - I also like it in, on and under lots of things. Case in point, alongside one of these special quesadillas. It's also great on an open-faced veggie burger, in tacos, in a wrap, over brown rice or farro, etc. I also like to make a meal of it with some grilled tofu, paneer, or fried egg. Let me know if you end up making it, and what you do with it!
The Spice Profile & Variations
The cumin is really nice here, I’ve dialed it up over the years. My advice? Don't skimp. The same goes for the red pepper profile. I’ve added more over time, but it’s one of those things where you really just want to add it to your liking. I talk through some other ideas in this list of variations as well.
- Add-ins: I often add other extra quick-cooking vegetables to the skillet along with my spinach. Segments of thin asparagus work well, as does small broccoli or cauliflower florets.
- Herb It Up: If I have any fresh herbs on hand - chopped cilantro, basil, chives, and/or dill - adding them after the spinach has cooked is a nice way to experiment with the flavor profile.
- Swap your chiles: Use a chopped serrano chile in place of the red chile flakes for a greener spiciness.
- Burst of Ginger: Mince a small knob of peeled ginger along with the garlic-shallot paste if you love ginger.
The main thing to remember - resist the urge to overcook the spinach. You want to cook it just long enough for it to collapse, cook through, and brighten up. And keep in mind it continues to cook after you pull it from the heat.
Hope you like this as much as I do. And thank you Anjum for the inspiration - I'm really enjoying the Ayurvedic angle of this book.
Spiced Coconut Spinach
As I mention up above, this spinach makes a great side. I can also imagine it on an open-faced veggie burger, in a taco, in a wrap, etc. Or make a meal of it with some grilled tofu, paneer, or fried egg. You can easily make this vegan by using oil instead of ghee/butter.
- 1 shallot
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1 tablespoon ghee, clarified butter, or sunflower oil
- 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup finely sliced asparagus, optional
- 8 oz / 225g freshly chopped spinach, well washed, stems trimmed
- squeeze of lemon plus zest
- 1/3 cup unsweetened wide-strip coconut, lightly toasted
Place the shallot and garlic on a cutting board, sprinkle with the salt, and chop/mash everything into a paste.
Heat the oil in your largest skillet over medium heat. Add the seeds and let them toast a bit. Stir in the red pepper flakes and let cook for a minute. Stir in the asparagus if you're using it, let cook roughly another minute, then stir in the garlic-shallot paste and all of the spinach. Keep stirring until the spinach starts collapsing a bit, and brightens up - barely any time at all - perhaps a minute.
Finish with a bit of fresh lemon juice and the coconut.
Inspired and adapted from the Coconut-laced Spiced Spinach recipe in Anjum Anand's Eat Right for your Body Type: The Super-Healthy Detox Diet Inspired by Ayurveda.