Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Eat Your Greens

I was horrified recently to learn that New Zealanders waste a good proportion of their food (I think it was in the 30% range but that could be a wild exaggeration, once my mind starts to turn over a statistic it is liable to increase if I am impressed).  I don't know about you, but I don't throw away much in the way of filet steak or salmon, it tends to be vegetables which are discovered moldering and slimy in the darkest recesses of the refrigerator.  I suspect that supermarkets are set out so that we go in and buy the things first which make us feel virtuous and we know we should be eating, and then we proceed through the more tempting areas where we find the things we would prefer to be gobbling up, and we put them into our trolleys as a reward for braving the horror which is supermarket shopping.

Recently the thing which was lying sad and unappreciated was spinach, or to be more precise two large bags of baby spinach leaves.  I can only surmise they were on special and two frugal members of the family availed themselves of the opportunity to bag a bargain.  Now spinach is one of those worthy vegetables which you know to be very good for you (think of Popeye with the bulging biceps, for instance) but which nobody particularly enjoys eating.  I still remember as a child being forced to eat every morsel of food on my plate (the starving children in Africa would be grateful for it, after all) and almost vomiting when spinach or silver beet was presented for my consumption.  Something about the texture, it seemed a bit gritty but slimy at the same time somehow.  Jack, the number four child and only one presently residing with us, is a particularly bad vegetable eater but even he admits that he will eat anything if it is presented in the form of soup, including vegetables.  So it seemed the best thing to do was to find two spinach soups for his delectation and see how we went from there. (We do eat a lot of Popeye Pie, made with spinach and feta and filo pasty, but he was getting wise to my tricks.)

The two recipes I fixed on were very different from one another, but each has proved to be a great success and I will be adding them to the repertoire of vegetable filled delights which are nevertheless enjoyed by all of us. The first recipe was Kumara Spinach and Coconut Soup, and the second was Spinach, Pea and Blue Cheese Soup.  They both sound a bit unlikely but are equally delicious.  I particularly liked the Spinach, Pea and Blue Cheese though, because the combination of the sweetness of the peas with the salty and robust blue cheese was really unusual and very delicious.  Also the colour was an intense green, almost looking radioactive in its luminosity, and it was like a jolt of summer to see it shimmering in its bowl.  In fact it looked rather unnatural but at least green is a real food colour, whereas blue never looks appetising.  (You don't need to find a gourmet blue cheese, any one which is on sale will do and if you picked up a bargain already in the supermarket you may well have a nice ripe one just waiting for this occasion.)  If you have been tempted by the spinach in the vegetable aisle and lived to regret it, do give them a go, both recipes are delicious comfort food for winter without feeling too heavy and they are very speedy to whip up too.

Bon appetit!