Cook with What's in Season: Spinach Raita

It never ceases to amaze me just how much a gigantic bunch of raw spinach shrinks down to an itty-bitty pile of wilted spinach upon cooking. Like so many other dark, leafy greens spinach has a high water content—apply heat, and it withers away. But even with this wilt factor spinach still packs a nutritional punch.

Relatively mild flavored, spinach can be enjoyed either raw or cooked. Flat-leaf, baby spinach is ideal in salads, while the more mature, curly-leafed variety is usually reserved for cooking. This recipe, for a spinach raita uses wilted spinach, but it is served cool or at room temperature.

For those of you who have never tried raita, it is an Indian and a Pakistani condiment made with plain yogurt. You may have seen it prepared at your favorite Indian restaurant with cucumber, not spinach. Typically it is made with cucumber in this country, but abroad it is made with many vegetables and fruits such as: pineapple, carrot, onion, or in this case, spinach.

Raitas mix up in no time, and stay fresh in the refrigerator for a few days after preparing.  Lightly spiced with cumin, salt, and pepper, and mixed with plain yogurt, this raita is a cooling alternative to the standard dip. I also make raitas as an accompaniment to grilled lamb or fish.

Spinach Raita

1 bunch spinach (about 8 cups) washed and stemmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ cups plain yogurt (preferably full or low fat)
3 tablespoons red onion, minced
juice of one lemon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté spinach in tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt. Remove from skillet when wilted, and place on a cutting board to cool. When cool, squeeze the spinach until almost dry; then chop fine.

In a medium size bowl, place yogurt, spinach, and red onion. Stir well to blend. Squeeze lemon, add cumin, salt and pepper. Stir well to blend, taste for seasoning, and serve.

Adrienne Kane is a writer and photographer. She is the author of a memoir, Cooking and Screaming, and the food blog,

- From Arugula to Ziti: Spinach & Feta Hummus
See all of Adrienne’s posts here

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