While cleaning out and reorganizing the freezer - I'm on a mission to make everything more visually accessible - I found a half-full/half-empty bag (depending on your point of view) of frozen spinach. Frozen greens can be the deal-breaker when it comes to my belief that frozen vegetables can be every bit as good as fresh. Frozen greens - spinach, collards, kale - are always in danger of being generally unappealing cooked and served from frozen. If they're whipped into a smoothie, I get it. Or, made into a creamy soup. Yes! It seems like they just need to be with something ... anything else.
That's how I ended up with half a bag of chopped spinach - I tried steaming it. Went "meh!". Tied up the end of the bag and tossed it back into the freezer to await further instructions. Or, inspiration.
I almost always have raw spinach in the fridge, as I love it in salads and on sandwiches in addition to or in place of the standard lettuce. I also put Swiss Chard, or massaged Kale or Collards on sandwiches. They just seem more interesting than lettuce.
Spinach is thought to have originated in Persia. That makes sense to me, since I had some Iranian friends years ago, and they love spinach, and use it often in various stews and sauces. It belongs to the amaranth family and is related to beets and quinoa. What’s more, it’s considered very healthy, as it’s loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. And, as a vegan, I try to get as many dark leafy greens into my diet as possible for the non-heme (plant sourced) iron.
Moving on, this sauce really doesn't take any time at all to make, and keeps, tightly sealed in a container for several days at least.
Start by prepping your ingredients. Chop the onions and garlic. They're going into the blender later, so you don't need to get fancy.
Chop up the pistachios. Again, you don't need to be fussy. It's all going to be thoroughly blender-ized.
Make sure that you have your frozen spinach out. Don't worry about thawing it or anything. The hot sauté pan will do that.
Give the onions and garlic a little sauté love. Two or three minutes should be enough. If they start to stick, reduce the heat just a bit or add a tiny bit of water.
Then, you can add the spinach. Stir that around for a couple minutes to thaw it, break it apart and cook it slightly. Then you can add the nuts. Give it all a couple or three minutes more - you do want to cook everything.
Here's the time to add your seasonings. I love the mild 'heat' of red chili flakes. You can also add the maple syrup, a few grinds of pepper, a pinch or two of salt. Oh, and more maple syrup. Snort.
I love the flavor 'boost' I get from the Maggi Arome vegetable based seasoning. You can swap this out for Worcestershire Sauce. Just a splash or two.
Got your blender out? Remove the spinach mixture from the heat, and dump it into the high-speed blender. This is the consistency that you're after. It will thicken, stored in the refrigerator. You can thin it out later, when you've decided how you want to use it, with water, stock, a bit of wine or plant milk.
I added a 'dollop' - the official term for a small spoonful, I think - and pulled a chopstick around through it. A couple of drops of your favorite hot sauce seals the deal, and makes it pretty besides.
Give this a try, and see what you think. Oh, and BTW, it could be made with fresh or frozen Swiss Chard, Kale or Collards just as easily. And, this might sound strange, but nice carrot tops also work REALLY well. In the summer, when I can get fresh farmers market bunches of carrots, I make a pesto from the tops, garlic and pistachios!