Wilting spinach fast

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by koukouvagia, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I need help in figuring out the most efficient way to wilt down massive amounts of leafy spinach.  The amount of spinach I need in order to make a good spanakopita or for a dish for even a small dinner party usually puts me off spinach.  Last night for example I made a spinach gratin.  I got 2 big bags of it and proceeded to "sautee" it with onions and garlic.  Even in my big wok I can only fit about 1/2 bag of spinch.  I put it in, let it wilt, and then add more and continue doing so until all the spinach is wilted and then I proceeded to sautee it only it's not sauteeing anymore it's now swimming in spinach juice and I have to spread it out to evaporate the juice.  Or otherwise I take it out and strain it over night in cheese cloths just so that it can be dry enough to put into a pie.  It's just ridiculous, is there a better way to do this?

    Oh and after all that our spinach gratin was barely enough to feed the 3 of us.
     
  2. michaelga

    michaelga

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    One place I worked at we used a pressure cooker.   It was actually a very large 40qt (?) pressure canner by all american.

    We'd through a steamer basket in the bottom, the fold open type, add water to almost come up to it then pack in the spinach.  

    It was a lot probably 10 to 15 pounds or more.  I honestly can't recall it was a long long time ago.  It was a huge amount and we really packed it in~!

    Lock the lid on and bring it up to temp, cook for only about 2 minutes and do a 'quick' release.  

    Dumped in the salad spinner, spun and juice collected.

    The juice went into making green pasta and the wilted leaves were put into various dishes 'florentine' and of course sunday quiche.

    You could probably do something similar but on a smaller scale - the key is to steam it at high temp and then drain it effectively.

    So pressure cooker and salad spinner.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2012
  3. thatchairlady

    thatchairlady

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    Maybe a basting pan?  Thinking, even if mounded up, would wilt down quickly and maybe only need a little toss about ahlfway thru?
     
  4. ordo

    ordo

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    Get a big enough pasta pot. A piece of cake to drain.

     
  5. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    You have to squeeze the water out of wilted spinach before using it, it's not enough to spread it out and let it dry.  Or, at least, it's slower than hell to do it that way. 

    If you're doing huge amounts of spinach which you want to used drained for something else, your best bet is to use frozen spinach rather than fresh.  It's easier to handle, cheaper, and not only do you not lose significant quality it actually tends to taste fresher. 

    The exception is a simple saute -- with olive oil, garlic and plenty of salt for instance -- in a reasonable quantity.  Then you want to stay as fresh as possible. 

    Otherwise, I'd reserve the fresh spinach for salads or when you only want a few, barely wilted leaves. 

    BDL
     
  6. durangojo

    durangojo

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    there is nothing to replace sauteed fresh spinach however you choose to season it for a side dish, to add to grains or for a salad, but for spanokopita, as a filling in puff pastry, spinach gratins, spinach artichoke dips etc., i suggest using  frozen chopped spinach in place of fresh....no vale lo pena!(not worth the pain), or the expense...organic chopped frozen spinach is now widely available in almost any grocer's freezer if that makes a difference to you... you just gotta squeeze the heck out of it..paper towels between your hands will work but you gotta do it 2 or 3 or 4 times so, i usually just dedicate a kitchen towel to the task...but you gotta squeeze,squeeze and squeeze some more, whichever which way you choose...

    joey
     
  7. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    This I have!  Good idea.  I'm too scared of pressure cookers, sorry Michael.
     
  8. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Here's my problem with frozen spinach... it's not always a consistent product.  Sometimes it's lovely and other times it's stringy.  When it's good it's good.  When it's stringy it's embarrassing to serve with company.  Infinitely cheaper though and for spanakopita I have used it.  I have made an entire spanakopita with fresh baby spinach.  There's nothing that can replace the fresh flavor and texture of that but the work that goes into it is crazy!

    Yes, squeezing the heck out of it burns a lot of calories but must be done.  I put it in a very large rectangular fine mesh strainer, cover it with a towel and then press the bejeezus out of it.  I squeeze as much as I can out of it.  Then I lay it flat between cheese cloths and leave in the fridge over night.  It's a lot of work but you're right, frozen is the way to go for these big jobs.

    What brand of frozen spinach do you use?
     
  9. durangojo

    durangojo

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    sorry kk, 'wring' was the word i was searching for last post. i put spinach in a towel, twist up the ends and wring out the water. wringing actually takes less time and effort than the 2, 3 or 4 times it takes to squeeze out the water...and it's more fun, in a sadistic sort of way (political figures work like a charm!)

    i use 'cascadian farms' organic. i don't know how it compares to other organic frozen vegetables...it seems to be the brand my home store carries.

    joey 
     
  10. kaneohegirlinaz

    kaneohegirlinaz

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  11. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I'll look for cascadian farms joey, I've usually used greek giant but it has been inconcistent.

    kgirl, I love that video!  Although I've never seen ingredients like ceyenne and nutmeg or sesame seeds in spanakopita but I'm sure it will be very good (except for the lemon zest, I can't accept that).  My filling consists of feta, spinach, scallions, eggs, dill, parsley and parmesan.  I've made it with blue cheese before but didn't like it much. 

    ps... I like how you call me "Miss" KK, but it makes me feel older than I am /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smiles.gif
     
  12. kaneohegirlinaz

    kaneohegirlinaz

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    Where I come from it’s Miss or Auntie or Grandma; to me, you’re a Miss like a young chickadee.  I’m in between, so most of the people that I use to work with called me Auntie.

    Back on topic though…

    So no lemon zest, huh?  Yeah, not a fan.  What about the lemon juice?  Or should I leave that out too?
     
  13. michaelga

    michaelga

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    So for those of us without access to the Test Kitchens website what is the method?

    Please share....

    :)
     
  14. kaneohegirlinaz

    kaneohegirlinaz

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    I know that we shouldn't copy and paste, but here you go...

    Greek Spinach and Feta Pie (Spanakopita)


    From America's Test Kitchen Season 12: Mediterranean Specials
    • Why this recipe works:
      The roots of this savory spinach and feta pie, with its trademark layers of flaky, crisp phyllo, run deep in Greek culture, yet most stateside versions are nothing more than soggy layers of phyllo with a sparse, bland filling. We wanted a casserole-style pie with a perfect balance of zesty spinach filling and shatteringly crisp phyllo crust—and we didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. Using store-bought phyllo was an easy timesaver. Among the various spinach options (baby, frozen, mature curly-leaf), tasters favored the bold flavor of fresh curly-leaf spinach that had been microwaved, coarsely chopped, then squeezed of excess moisture. Crumbling the feta into fine pieces ensured a salty tang in every bite, while the addition of Greek yogurt buffered the assertiveness of the feta. We found that Pecorino Romano (a good stand-in for a traditional Greek hard sheep’s-milk cheese) added complexity to the filling and, when sprinkled between the sheets of phyllo, helped the flaky layers hold together. Using a baking sheet rather than a baking dish allowed excess moisture to easily evaporate, ensuring a crisp crust.

    [​IMG]
     
    The roots of this savory spinach and feta pie, with its trademark layers of flaky, crisp phyllo, run deep in Greek culture, yet most stateside versions are nothing more than soggy layers of phyllo with a sparse, bland filling. We wanted a casserole-style pie with a perfect balance of zesty spinach filling and shatteringly crisp phyllo crust—and we didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. Using store-bought phyllo was an easy timesaver. Among the various spinach options (baby, frozen, mature curly-leaf), tasters favored the bold flavor of fresh curly-leaf spinach that had been microwaved, coarsely chopped, then squeezed of excess moisture. Crumbling the feta into fine pieces ensured a salty tang in every bite, while the addition of Greek yogurt buffered the assertiveness of the feta. We found that Pecorino Romano (a good stand-in for a traditional Greek hard sheep’s-milk cheese) added complexity to the filling and, when sprinkled between the sheets of phyllo, helped the flaky layers hold together. Using a baking sheet rather than a baking dish allowed excess moisture to easily evaporate, ensuring a crisp crust. (less)

    In Queue: Greek Spinach and Feta Pie (Spanakopita)

    [​IMG]

    Watch This Recipe


    Ideally, spanakopita is a hot and flavorful one-dish meal encased in a crispy, buttery crust. Yet most versions fall flat--a Greek tragedy in need of a happy ending.
    Watch the Video

    Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish or 10 to 12 as an appetizer

    Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish or 10 to 12 as an appetizer

    Full-fat sour cream can be substituted for whole-milk Greek yogurt. Phyllo dough is also available in large 14 by 18-inch sheets; if using, cut them in half to make 14 by 9-inch sheets. Don't thaw the phyllo in the microwave—let it sit in the refrigerator overnight or on the countertop for four to five hours. To make ahead, freeze the spanakopita on the baking sheet, wrapped well in plastic wrap, or cut the spanakopita in half crosswise and freeze smaller sections on a plate. Bake the spanakopita frozen, increasing the baking time by 5 to 10 minutes.
    Ingredients
    Filling
    • 2(10-ounce) bags curly leaf spinach, rinsed
    • 1/4cup water
    • 12ounces feta cheese, rinsed, patted dry, and crumbled into fine pieces (about 3 cups)
    • 3/4cup whole-milk Greek yogurt (see note)
    • 4medium scallions, sliced thin (about 1/2 cup)
    • 2large eggs, beaten
    • 1/4cup minced fresh mint leaves
    • 2tablespoons minced fresh dill leaves
    • 3medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
    • 1teaspoon grated zest plus 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
    • 1teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/2teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/4teaspoon table salt
    • 1/8teaspoon cayenne pepper
    Phyllo Layers
    • 7tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/2pound (14 by 9-inch) phyllo, thawed (see note)
    • 1 1/2ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated fine (about 3/4 cup)
    • 2teaspoons sesame seeds (optional)
    Instructions

    • 1. FOR THE FILLING: Place spinach and water in large microwave-safe bowl. Cover bowl with large dinner plate. Microwave on high power until spinach is wilted and decreased in volume by half, about 5 minutes. Using potholders, remove bowl from microwave and keep covered, 1 minute. Carefully remove plate and transfer spinach to colander set in sink. Using back of rubber spatula, gently press spinach against colander to release excess liquid. Transfer spinach to cutting board and roughly chop. Transfer spinach to clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove excess water. Place drained spinach in large bowl. Add remaining filling ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. (Filling can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator.)

    • 2. FOR THE PHYLLO LAYERS: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using pastry brush, lightly brush 14 by 9-inch rectangle in center of parchment with melted butter to cover area same size as phyllo. Lay 1 phyllo sheet on buttered parchment, and brush thoroughly with melted butter. Repeat with 9 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter (you should have total of 10 layers of phyllo).

    • 3. Spread spinach mixture evenly over phyllo, leaving ¼-inch border on all sides. Cover spinach with 6 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter and sprinkling each with about 2 tablespoons Pecorino cheese. Lay 2 more phyllo sheets on top, brushing each with butter (these layers should not be sprinkled with Pecorino).

    • 4. Working from center outward, use palms of your hands to compress layers and press out any air pockets. Using sharp knife, score pie through the top 3 layers of phyllo into 24 equal pieces. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using). Bake until phyllo is golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 10 minutes or up to 2 hours. Slide spanakopita, still on parchment, to cutting board. Cut into squares and serve.
    Technique
    • Spanakopita Gone Wrong

      The average square of spinach pie served up in a Greek diner is so flawed, we’re surprised anyone ever orders it.

      PROBLEM:

      Top sheets of phyllo fall off when pie is sliced, leaving filling virtually exposed

      SOLUTION:

      A sprinkling of grated Pecorino Romano (substituting for a Greek sheep’s milk cheese) between some of the top layers of phyllo glues them together more firmly than the usual butter alone, so the top crust stays put.

      PROBLEM:

      Dull-tasting, woody filling made with frozen spinach

      SOLUTION:

      We use chopped fresh mature spinach (not baby leaves, which contribute only weak taste) precooked in the microwave, squeezed of excess moisture, and brightened with fresh herbs, lemon juice, and zest.

      PROBLEM:

      Soggy bottom crust

      SOLUTION:

      A thinner layer of filling cuts down on moisture, and baking the pie on a baking sheet, not in a baking dish, allows excess liquid to evaporate so the crust can crisp up.
    • [​IMG]
      Our spanakopita avoids all the usual problems.
     
  15. michaelga

    michaelga

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    Thanks - microwave eh?!

    I'll have to give that a whirl.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  16. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Can't tell you what to do.  I would leave both the lemon and the zest out.  Disclaimer: That is my personal preference and nothing more. I am not suggesting that you should be "authentic" or that I'm an expert in what "authentic" spanakopita is or that I myself am being "authentic" by not using lemon/zest.  I hate lemon zest in just about everything.
     
  17. kaneohegirlinaz

    kaneohegirlinaz

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    Yeah Miss ... Er .. KK, Mister kgirl doesn't care for lemon either, so I'm thinking that I'll follow you're lead and let you know how it goes over
     
  18. fitnesswayne

    fitnesswayne

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    I know this is somewhat off topic but I am really annoyed with the fact that organic spinach goes bad so fast. I avoid normal spinach because it is one of the most pesticide riden vegetables. When I buy organic spinach it goes bad in 3 or 4 days, which is not long enough to use a pound of spinach unless you really want to eat a ton of spinach. Does anyone else have this problem?
     
  19. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Your fridge has to much moisture in the air in it. Put it sealed plastic bags. The more air the faster it will go. It can also be frozen if blanched first for adding to other dishes later.
     
  20. durangojo

    durangojo

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    wayne,

    are you talking about organic spinach in bunches or bagged? i do know that some health food stores carry loose baby spinach, like spring mix, so you can buy however much you want. i find that spinach in bunches doesn't last as long and has a tendency to get slimy because of the root attached unless you trim, wash, separate and dry it...it's a pain, but i really like just regular ole spinach or curly spinach sometimes...it's earthier or something....keeping your lettuces and greens in those fine mesh produce bags helps as well.....plastic produce bags are killers!   seeing that cleaned baby spinach weighs almost nothing, a pound of spinach if that is what you are buying is a HUGE amount for any household.... unless of course you're popeye!

    joey
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012