News and Media

Participant Stories: “Spinach Season”

By John Gannon

Spinach is a great cool weather crop, best planted in spring, or autumn. It is rich in vitamins such as Vitamin A, B6, B9, C, E and lutein. It also contains iron, potassium, and magnesium. It has been proven to reduce the risk of macular degeneration (benefits eyesight). It has anti-cancer properties and is anti-inflammatory. It is also good for the skin, heart, and general immunity.

How to grow?

English spinach requires temperatures between 4 degrees Celsius and 21 degrees celsius to germinate. It is easy to grow from seed. You can grow in containers (ensure they have holes for drainage) or in the ground. Choose a container 30cm deep and wide, and fill with potting mix. Or dig in some compost if growing in the ground. Sow the seeds and cover lightly with a little bit of compost/potting mix. Keep watering it to keep it moist, but not too much. It takes six weeks to grow from seed to maturity. You can keep sowing more every 4 weeks to extend the harvest. You can harvest by picking some of the leaves as it grows or harvest the whole plant at maturity. You can eat it fresh or cooked, but make sure you wash it first. A heavy freeze may kill the plant, and if it’s too hot it will go to seed.

“Spanakopita Recipe”

Ingredients: 

  • 1 bunch (1 kg) spinach or silverbeet
  • 200g feta
  • 200g ricotta
  • 160g parmesan
  • 4 eggs beaten lightly
  • 2 tbs dill
  • 1/4tsp nutmeg
  • 12 sheets filo pastry.
  • 125g butter
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 2 clove garlic

Method:

In a large frypan, heat oil, then fry onion and garlic, stirring until soft. Add spinach, and cook 3min until wilted. Place in a colander, drain and remove excess liquid with a tea towel. Preheat the oven to180/ 200 degrees celsius. Combine spinach mix with cheeses, nutmeg, and dill. Add eggs, season, and mix well. Grease an oven tray and place a sheet of filo pastry onto it. Brush with melted butter, and repeat with 5 more sheets. Place spinach mix onto the pastry. Brush another pastry sheet with butter and place it on top of the spinach mixture. Repeat with remaining pastry. Roll up the edges of the pastry. Brush top with butter. Bake for 40 min or until pastry is golden. Serve.

 “Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni Recipe”

Ingredients: 

  • 250g cannelloni
  • 250g spinach
  • 225g ricotta
  • 2 egg yolks lightly beaten
  • 1 garlic crushed
  • ½ cup cheese
  • pinch nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 2tsp oil
  • 425g tomato puree
  • 1 level teaspoon basil leaves

Method:

Set oven to 200 degrees. Mix spinach, ricotta cheese, egg yolks, garlic, grated cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Fill cannelloni tubes with the mixture. Make the sauce – heat olive oil, add tomato puree, basil, salt, and pepper, boil, and remove from heat. Grease an ovenproof dish, place a layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of cannelloni. Pour over a layer of sauce, and sprinkle grated cheese on top. Bake 30 minutes. Serve.

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