Monday, April 8, 2013

Spicy Garlic Spinach with Sesame Seeds and Rice

Earlier in the month, green tea was the secret ingredient in an energizing smoothie I made. Green tea is not just for drinking though - sneak loose green tea into this spinach dish, and you'll get a healthy dose of its antioxidants, as well as a beautiful burst of flavor.

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons loose green tea*
  • 1 teaspoon seeded and chopped hot red chile pepper
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 pound fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups hot cooked long-grain rice
1. Heat the canola oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the green tea and stir-fry for 30 seconds.  Add the chile pepper and garlic; stir-fry for 30 seconds.

2. Add the spinach and stir-fry for 2 minutes.  Add the vinegar and cook for a final 1 to 4 minutes, until the spinach is completely wilted.  Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, salt and black pepper.

Note: You'll want to use your largest pot, since 1 pound of spinach makes a large pile. After about 2 minutes, my spinach had cooked down to about half the volume of the pot:

And by the end you're left with but this:

3. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions.  Serve 1/2 cup spinach mixture over 1/2 cup rice on each of 4 plates.

I rounded out the meal with baked tofu on the side:

*Any loose-leaf green tea will work just fine here, but I recommend seeking out a few varieties, if you can find them. Tonight I used Dragon Well tea:

It has a light-green color and a beautiful, flowery aroma. You'll enjoy cup after cup of fresh-brewed tea after you've made this recipe.

Two others to try are gunpowder green tea (so-called for its resemblance to gunpowder in the 17th century), and New Mist tea, so-called because it is hand-picked at dawn.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (1/2 cup spinach, 1/2 cup rice), Calories 198

Tasting Notes:
This turned out exactly as I was hoping - spicy without burning your tongue, garlicky without the garlic being overwhelming, nice sesame flavor that didn't overpower the fresh spinach, and just a subtle hint of green tea. I have never actually eaten a tea leaf before, but found the flavor just delightful. I happened to eat all the spinach first, so my last few bites tonight were of the rice left behind on the plate - which, tasted like it had been simmered in green tea, instead of simmering in plain water. The effect is so fantastic, I very well might cook a batch of rice in green tea and skip the spinach preparation some time in the near future.


If you can't find a good loose-leaf green tea, bagged will work just as well. Look for an organic brand such as Mighty Leaf, and simply snip open two tea bags and add to the recipe as directed above.

You won't even notice a difference in the final result:

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