If you're old enough to remember the old Popeye cartoon, you'll remember that Popeye got strong from tearing the lid off a can of spinach and downing it. It turns out Popeye was onto something; spinach, which is in season right now, is full of antioxidants, iron and fiber.
As the mildest of the non-lettuce leafy greens, spinach is good eaten raw or cooked and plays nicely with lots of other foods. It's best fresh, sold in bunches...there have been e.coli scares from bagged spinach in the last several years, and I find it goes slimy and gross very fast when it's bagged. Some manufacturers use "breathable" bags and those can buy you some more time.
It's delicious with a warm bacon vinaigrette...yes, you can have bacon and follow a heathy eating plan! Cook a slice or two of center-cut bacon, crumble it, and return it to the pan. Whisk the still-warm drippings with a splash of balsamic vinegar to taste. Toss with your washed spinach and serve; the warmth melts the greens enough to get rid of the raw taste but retains some crunch, and the bacon and spinach just go together beautifully.
I also love using it in kind of a surprising way: green smoothies. Toss in a handful of fresh or frozen spinach with your fruit and you get a serving of greens down without even realizing it. My favorite (since I don't like dairy in my smoothies) is 4 oz. orange or apple juice, about a quarter cup frozen mango, a quarter cup frozen strawberries, a scoop of protein powder, and a big handful of frozen spinach. Blend it up and voila, you have a filling and protein-packed breakfast or post-workout recovery drink. It's actually kind of a pretty green, too, not a scary sludge (one of mine is in the photo), and you can't really taste the spinach at all. You can vary however you like, of course...change out the fruit, use almond or soy milk instead of juice, use yogurt...just try the spinach if you haven't before. I bet you'll like it as much as I do!
What's your favorite way to use spinach?