Spinach is a great vegetable for preppers because you can start eating your crop within 30 days – and the more leaves you cut the more it grows. It’s pretty tough, and will grow after the last frosts have passed, can be started indoors, and grown in pots on balconies.
High in Vitamins A, K and C, and iron, spinach also contains potassium and folate. Potassium helps regulate the heartbeat, moves waste products out of cells and the new nutrients in, as well as helping with nerve function. It is also a high fiber food.
With so much good stuff in a spinach, there has to be a drawback, right?
Leafy greens do have higher levels of oxalates – a compound produced in plants that, if eaten in excess, combined with a high sodium intake, and drinking insufficient water may lead to the formation of kidney stones in those at risk.
So, cook your spinach to get rid of the majority of oxalates. Cooking spinach also increases the bio-availability of iron. which our bodies need.
Obviously, sometimes you will use uncooked baby spinach in salads, and that is fine as long as you are not eating large quantities on a daily basis, and eat younger spinach leaves rather than the older leaves which will have built up more oxalates.
How to Cook Spinach
Most of us have overcooked spinach for years. Great news for preppers is that it only takes between a minute to cook. Wash fresh leaves, then place in a salad spinner or colander and drain as much water off as possible.
Heat your skillet, add butter, or oil of choice, add garlic or onion and lightly fry until done, then add spinach, cover with a lid and wait for between 1 to 2 minutes until it is wilted. Take out, season and eat. How easy.
Types of Spinach
As far as spinach (Spinacia oleracea) goes, there are different types like the Savoy with its curly leaves, and the flat type spinach we find in bags at the greengrocer.
Then there are the spinach substitutes like Swiss chard, Beta vulgaris, which belong to the same family as beetroot, and young beetroot leaves themselves, often referred to as beet greens.
Rainbow chard has a variety of stem and leaf vein colors, ranging from pink to red and orange. This is colourful when chopped into salads, or cooked.
A tip is to remove the stems and main leaf vein, chop these small and sauté or stir fry before adding the chopped leaves as the leaves cook really quickly, and you don’t want to overcook them while you try get the stems tender.
Nutritious, tasty and easily digestible, spinach is common across the western world, but then in tropical areas there are other greens used as spinach, like Brazilian spinach Alternanthera sissoo, which is also called sissoo spinach.
Its leaves are crunchy and it doesn’t get sticky like the Malabar spinach, which we will discuss next. The leaves only are used and added to soups and stir fries. The leaves can also be steamed and are eaten raw added to salads.
Then there is Surinam spinach Alinum triangulare, also known as Klaroen. You can use the young leaves and stems but if older stems are being used you need to pull the leaves off the stems.
It apparently originated in South America, but is popular in south east Asia where is it also known as Klaroen or Philippine spinach.
Malabar spinach (Basella alba, Basella ruba) is also known as Vietnamese, Ceylon or red vine spinach and needs a trellis to support its climbing habit.
The B. alba has white stems and the B. ruba reddish stems. It does have a slightly sticky texture, so is often used to thicken soups and stews and is popular in India where it is used to thicken curries.
Chinese water spinach grows in moist ground and when cooked the leaves are tender like spinach. It is banned in Arizona by the USDA because it can easily spread, however it doesn’t appear to be illegal in other states. It is a staple in Asian cuisine and is known as kangkong.
Warrigal greens, known as New Zealand spinach, is native to Australia and New Zealand. Captain James Cook’s crew ate the local spinach as they needed fresh greens to help prevent scurvy, but now top chefs are serving up the dish.
A few seeds were taken aboard Captain Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, and delivered to Kew gardens where they were cultivated – the first native green from Australia to make it to Britain apparently. It is also known as French spinach, as when the French got to know about it they gave it their country’s name.
We have collated a round-up of easy recipes for preppers that include the different types of spinach.
These recipes will prove very useful if you are growing different types of spinach in your stealth garden that the majority of people would not even recognise as edible. And you can substitute some of the lesser known types of spinach for the traditional types.
Easy Sautéed Spinach
Starting with the very simplest recipe to suit a prepper. Sauté the spinach in olive oil with garlic – perfect side dish to meat or other vegetables like potatoes or sweet potatoes. Yummy.
You don’t have to use olive oil – for a slightly different taste use butter, coconut oil, sesame, or sunflower oil – but don’t lose the garlic!
Omelet with Baby Spinach and Parmesan Cheese
When you are relying on your stockpile, or the produce from your survival plot there is no reason not to have something of a gourmet dish – French chefs would be proud to serve this omelet with baby spinach and Parmesan cheese.
Parmesan is particularly good for preppers as, being a hard cheese, it lasts, unopened for 2 to 4 months in the refrigerator. For a full breakfast, you may want to serve with a slice of bacon and a slice of homemade bread.
Watermelon and Spinach Super Salad
When the long days of summer need food that helps keep you hydrated and cool then the combination of watermelon, spinach and avocado pear make this a hit.
It has some quinoa, feta and toasted pumpkin seeds to up the nutritional content and add extra crunch and flavor, then for more hit of flavor add some mint and garden or salad cress (as opposed to watercress).
This budget spinach pie recipe uses frozen puff pastry and frozen spinach – but if you have fresh spinach from your garden use that instead. It also uses cottage cheese instead of the feta traditionally used in spanokopita, the traditional Greek spinach pie.
Don’t pass up on this recipe. This is not a limp watery green soup – green it definitely is, but with potato to thicken it, onion and garlic, cream, chicken broth, and dotted with crunchy croutons it is hearty, nourishing and delicious!
Spinach and Matcha Pancakes
These would be perfect for St Patrick’s Day or for a Halloween treat – bright green pancakes to keep the hobgoblins away.
Matcha powder and fresh spinach make the difference here, the rest of the ingredients are your standard ones for making pancakes, which you should have to hand in your store cupboard.
Green Goddess Smoothie
Strawberries, avocado and spinach make for a smooth dreamy treat that’s super good for you. You’ll also need some plain yogurt and two oranges. Breakfast on the go for two requires no cooking – that’s what I call a winning formula.
Cob loaf filled with cheesy spinach
This is an ideal way to use up a cob loaf that’s a day or so old – by hollowing out the inside, brushing the inside bits that have been neatly sliced with olive oil and toasting in the oven while the cob loaf itself is also heated whole, with is spinach and cheese filling.
The recipe does use four different types of cheese, but just two would be fine. It will still taste amazing.
Chickpeas, Spinach, and Almond Butter Over Rice
This recipe uses a can of chickpeas, fresh (or frozen) spinach, a variety of spices sautéed with onion then mixed in with almond butter ( you can substitute with peanut butter if almond butter isn’t in your stockpile).
The best thing is it takes just 15 minutes to prepare and is super tasty served over a bowl of fluffy rice.
Risotto with Spinach
Risotto is a comforting dish with the flavor of the chicken broth permeating the rice and spinach, while onion and garlic lends their flavors. The dish is served with prosciutto, but you can substitute with some crispy fried bacon.
Don’t let the exotic sounding name make you pass this by. It’s an Indian vegetarian dish high in folate, calcium and iron – and best of all it is gluten-free. It uses paneer – an Indian cottage cheese – but paneer is very easy to make or substitute with halloumi cheese.
Instead of Kashmiri chili powder, use an ordinary chili powder. Other than that the ingredients are fairly simple – spinach, onion, garlic, some ginger and turmeric.
The recipe calls for ghee – a clarified butter. You can use ordinary butter, but butter burns more easily so it will need to be watched at its smoke point is 350°F but ghee’s smoke point is 485°F.
Alternatively you can make your own ghee at home, the advantage being that it has a delicious nutty flavor and the milk solids are removed so it is better for people who are dairy sensitive.
It can’t be claimed that it is 100% casein free, so in known cases of a sensitivity to casein rather avoid milk based products altogether.
The dish is full of flavor, healthy and relatively inexpensive. It is possible to substitute the cheese with chunks of fried sweet potato instead if you don’t have cheese.
Aubergine rolls with spinach and ricotta
When your food garden provides aubergines and spinach, this is a perfect way to use them up.
Don’t have ricotta? Make it in under an hour using only three ingredients – whole milk, salt and lemon juice – how easy! The rest of the ingredients would probably be in your stockpile – nutmeg, tomato sauce (homemade or store bought) olive oil, fresh breadcrumbs and some Parmesan.
Spinach, bacon and white bean salad
This dish is low calories and requires only the bacon to be dry fried until crispy. The roasted red peppers come out of a jar – either prepare roasted red pepper yourself, or buy ready-made.
The borlotti beans come from a can, and the spinach, hopefully, from your garden. Even if you only have a large pot on a balcony you can still grow spinach and benefit from all its goodness.
Punchy Spinach Pesto Pizza
This pizza base is made with yeast so you need a bit of time for the dough to rise. Many of the ingredients can come from your balcony pots or garden – like the spinach, basil, cherry tomatoes and broccoli.
You will need mozzarella for that ooey-gooey, yummy cheesy pizza though.
Spinach and Blue Cheese Pizza
Compared to the pizza listed above the crust is instant – no need for yeast – just baking powder and yoghurt to mix with the wholewheat spelt flour – or you can substitute what flour you have available for the base.
It’s just that the spelt flour is considered more healthy. Rapeseed oil specified in the recipe is basically canola oil, and the ‘vegetarian blue cheese’ specified can be substituted with regular blue cheese or one of the vegan blue cheeses available.
Garlic, onion and spinach should be available from your prepper garden whether it’s on a farm, a backyard, or a balcony.
The mushrooms and walnuts you will probably have to buy, but if you are growing shitake mushrooms feel free to use those, and any other nuts that you may have growing – like pecans or almonds, if you don’t have walnuts.
Sausage ragu and spinach pasta bake
This is a family type meal that’s warming and satisfying made with pork sausages, tomatoes, pasta and spinach. Add in the ready-made cheese sauce or make your own – I think homemade is always better.
Glaze with a beaten egg, sprinkle with parmesan and put it into a Dutch oven if cooking outside or into the oven at home. You’ll notice the recipe doesn’t say what you do with the egg – it is lightly beaten and poured onto the top of the dish before baking.
Feel free to add onion, garlic and a splash of red wine if you want a tastier meal and if your garden has provided you with carrots, a couple of grated carrots can go into the mix too.
Some of us are used to more flavor, so use a spicier pork sausage and add in some red pepper (capsicum) or chopped chili.
Spinach, cottage and cheddar cheese, eggs and brown rice go into the wholemeal pie crust. The dish originates from Pakistan, and although it doesn’t seem to have much in the way of added spices it seems the cheese and eggs are sufficient to make a tasty pie that can be sliced and used in lunchboxes.
Spinach Feta Pull Apart Pie
It’s always good to have phyllo pastry in your freezer ready to haul out and use with fresh vegetable dishes.
This recipe requires rolling the filling into the phyllo sheets, coiling them into wheels and placing in the dish – then serving involves simply pulling a wheel from the pie and enjoying all the soft goodness encased in that flaky, crispy phyllo.
The recipe is really simple, requiring spinach, shallots, garlic and dill, which can all be grown at home. Feta and ricotta cheese make this super tasty.
Swiss Chard Recipes
Although these recipes specific Swiss chard, feel free to substitute spinach in those that have multiple ingredients – many of those who have made these recipes, say they have substituted and the result has been great. I just wouldn’t substitute in recipe number 20 below.
Simple Sautéed Swiss Chard
Just a simple bowl of Swiss chard can be a meal in itself. The flavor or onion and garlic and lightly fried in olive oil, and served with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, elevate these leafy greens to gourmet style.
Chard, Tomato and Cannellini Bean Soup
The beans help make this a rich and satisfying soup that will keep people full. Its tasty with the addition of onion, garlic, fennel and can be made using canned beans, or as the method here suggests, dry beans that are soaked then prepared.
Coconut Creamed Greens
The coconut cream, chili and spices lift this dish from ordinary to special. Consider giving place in your store-cupboard or stockpile to coconut milk and coconut cream as these canned goods can be used in many different dishes to put a unique twist on what could be a fairly ordinary dish.
Sausage and Ricotta Baked Cannelloni
You don’t immediately see the spinach in this dish – which could be an advantage when children do their best to avoid anything that looks green! The spinach is inside the cannelloni, with the medallions of sausage, overlaid with the cheesy sauce and tomato.
According to those who have made this dish they substituted many of the items in line with what was left on their pantry shelves.
Government health restrictions has made it difficult to get out to the stores, and of course there have been some shortages.
Black-eyed Peas with Chard and Green Herb Mash
Keep the recipe green with the usual green Swiss chard or change it up by using Rainbow Swiss chard with all the beautiful stem colors, ranging from red through orange and yellow, to add some fun to the dish.
An Israeli inspired dish, this can be served with homemade flatbreads to mop up the gravy, or you can serve over rice from your stockpile. Chili, cilantro, garlic, nutmeg and lemon add to the flavor hit of this dish.
Chard wrapped fish with lemon and olives
Been fishing? This is a great recipe to great tasty and healthy fish parcels wrapped in chard and served with a flavorsome sauce with onion, yellow cherry tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, olives, and chicken stock. The fish parcel are served with rice, couscous or quinoa.
Turmeric Salmon with Chard and Coconut Crisp
Need inspiration for salmon? This one is a keeper – the turmeric and oil season he salmon perfectly, then the chard cooked with shallots and ginger provide a bed for the fish, and the crunchy topping is the best.
Plain coconut flakes are lightly fried until golden with oil, chili, and garlic.
Grilled Leafy Greens with Spicy Garlic Oil
I had chard done this way at a Thai restaurant with a seafood salad – it was the best! This is another technique for cooking chard to master and bring out to impress guests – and it is super-fast too.
Garlic, olive oil, chili flakes, salt and fresh black pepper are mixed up then the leaves are coated, the oil and spice mix rubbed in and fried for just a minute on each side.
You can substitute the chard done with way with other green like kale, mustard greens, and other more exotic types of spinach.
Spiced Chickpeas and Chard Frittata
This one-skillet meal that serves up to 6 people. It uses 12 eggs, so let’s hope the chickens are laying, and that your herb garden is growing well – parsley, basil and cilantro all go into the mix.
Some people prefer to substitute the sour cream with Greek yoghurt for a slightly lighter version. A can of chickpeas and chard go into the mix with some spices to add some zest.
Cheesy Grits with Poached Eggs, Chard, and Bacon.
Have this as a hearty breakfast, lunch or dinner – it’s got all the ingredients to keep you going, and is reasonably spicy but not overly so. Feel free to substitute the type of cheese and the type of chili peppers used.
Spinach Alternative Recipes
Chinese spinach or Surinam spinach
For those with stealth gardens this plant hides in plain sight and like the sautéed spinach is sautéed with garlic and butter or oil, but the difference is that you add onion and some shrimp paste – although if you prefer not to this is fine, as well as some finely chopped scotch bonnet pepper for added flavor. Adding the pepper is optional though.
Malabar Spinach and Wild Mushroom Stir-fry
This recipe suits a prepper perfectly as the spinach can be harvested from the stealth garden, and mushroom used are dehydrated ones. Basically you need some common garden ingredients like garlic, scallions and ginger to complete this vegetarian dish which is served over rice.
Yard Long Beans and Malabar Spinach
When you watch the video you’ll learn about two vegetables not so common in the US, but which are ideally suited to prepper gardens, especially in warm areas like Texas. The presenter stir fries Malabar spinach and beans to create a tasty dish.
Curry with Malabar Spinach
Lentils are used to thicken this curry, with chili for some heat, and fresh grated coconut. Jaggery, used in this recipe, is made from sugarcane – you can use brown sugar as a substitute – only one teaspoon is called for in the recipe.
The other unusual ingredient is tamarind – most large supermarkets with an International aisle should have tamarind paste in jars, or try an Asian grocer. Feel free to substitute dried coconut flakes if you don’t have fresh coconut.
African Ground Nut Stew with Malabar Spinach and Chicken
The recipe given here feeds 8, so you may want to halve the quantities. You’ll enjoy the nuttiness of the peanut butter offset by the chicken.
The garlic, ginger, and hot red pepper flakes add some optional heat. Serve the traditional North African way with couscous, or Moroccan flat bread.
Warrigal Greens Recipes
There are four recipes in this post – basically a frittata, a cannelloni dish, a phyllo pie, and warrigal greens and scallop dumplings. Any recipe that calls for spinach or chard can be substituted with warrigal greens.
The leaves aren’t very large so I would say the only recipe you couldn’t really use them for is the fish wrapped parcels (recipe number 25 in this article) where the larger leaf of Swiss chard is better suited.
Jeanie is an avid camper and a cook. She likes to do pioneer recipe sin particular, and any other type of survival food that our great-grandfathers loved.