Go beyond salad with spinach

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Whether you buy it bagged or bunched, baby spinach is a simple and speedy way to add greens to your meal.

Beyond the obvious use in salad, baby spinach works in a number of preparations, from baked pasta to stir-fry. For a wonderful side, saute several cloves of minced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes in olive oil for a minute. Add a large bag of spinach and continue cooking until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Zest a lemon into the pan and stir well. Grate Parmesan cheese over the greens, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer the greens to a serving platter, then drizzle the juice of half of the lemon over it.

Spinach raita with toasted cumin

This easy Indian dish — from Ruta Kahate’s “5 Spices, 50 Dishes” (Chronicle Books) makes a great dip with triangles of toasted pita bread.

4 ounces baby spinach

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup plain whole or low-fat yogurt

2 tablespoons minced red onion

3/4to 1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

Rinse the spinach, but do not dry it. Place it in a small saucepan, cover and set over medium heat. Steam the spinach until tender, but still bright green, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small, dry skillet toast the cumin seeds until they turn dark and fragrant. Set aside to cool, then grind them in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, onion, salt, ginger and cumin.

Squeeze the cooled spinach to remove any excess water, then finely chop it. Add this to the yogurt mixture and stir well. Chill until ready to serve.

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