FoodRediscovering the nutritional prowess and culinary versatility of spinach pudding

Rediscovering the nutritional prowess and culinary versatility of spinach pudding

Spinach Pudding
Spinach Pudding
Images source: © Getty Images | Theerawan Bangpran
3:46 PM EST, January 25, 2024

Vegetable pudding might seem unconventional today, but it was quite common in homes in the past. This is evidenced in pre-war cookbooks, which featured many recipes based on whipped egg whites and vegetables like potatoes, kale, cauliflower, and carrots. These dishes were predominantly prepared in a water bath, served either as dessert or as a savory side dish for lunch.

Spinach pudding was particularly popular. Spinach originated from the territories of ancient Persia, where it was cultivated nearly two thousand years ago. As time passed, spinach spread to other regions such as China and North Africa. Around the 10th and 11th centuries, the Moors introduced this "Persian grass" to the Iberian Peninsula.

Despite its journey, spinach did not immediately gain popularity in Europe. It wasn't until the 18th century that it began to be grown on a larger scale.

Spinach was used in a variety of ways, one such preparation was green leaf pudding. So, how is it prepared?

Nutritional value of spinach

The dish's main ingredient is fresh spinach, ideally from trustworthy sources. This is because spinach leaves can absorb and store a notable amount of harmful pesticides which can be difficult to remove with a simple wash.

This vegetable is rich in beneficial nutrients like iron, potassium, calcium, and vitamins: C, E, K, B1, B2, or B6. Its contained chlorophyll works to neutralize toxins and cleanse the liver and kidneys, while the coenzyme Q10 increases muscle strength, including that of the heart, and helps control cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.

Spinach is also effective in weight management as it is low-calorie, and it contains thylakoid - a compound that slows down fat digestion, reduces appetite, and enhances weight loss.

The high content of antioxidants carotenoids in spinach helps to protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease, and vision problems like dry eye syndrome, night blindness, cataract, or macular degeneration.

The only drawback of spinach is its high concentration of oxalic acid, which can inhibit the absorption of magnesium and calcium, weaken bones, and promote the formation of kidney stones. That's why those with urinary system problems, disorders of fat digestion or intestinal diseases should consume spinach in moderation.

Spinach Pudding
Spinach Pudding© Getty Images | haoliang

Spinach pudding recipe

Spinach pudding can be made in two variations: as a sweet, delicate dessert, or as a savory accompaniment to lunches or as a standalone snack.

For the savory version, we need fresh spinach leaves (1.1 pounds), which we rid of stalks, rinse, dry, blanch for 2-3 minutes in boiling water and drain. These are then combined with a slightly stale wheat roll that has been soaked in milk and squeezed. Soft butter (3 tablespoons) is creamed with egg yolks (4) and added to the spinach, along with garlic (3 cloves), a pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg. Finally, we fold in egg whites (4) whipped to stiff peaks. The mixture is transferred to a buttered and breadcrumb lined mold, and steamed for 45 minutes.

For the sweet version, we blend a handful of fresh spinach with milk (1 cup). Three-quarters of this mixture is heated in a pot, and brown sugar (1 tablespoon) and butter (1 tablespoon) are added. To the remaining spinach and milk mix, we add an egg yolk, wheat flour, and potato starch (1 tablespoon each), incorporate it into the heated mix, and cook for a few minutes. It's then left to cool and can be served with yogurt, fruit sauce, or small sponge cakes.

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