Of all the “crops” we grow in our garden, my favorite is the spinach.

I tire of the summer squash; grow weary of the cucumbers; even begin to dread the mounds of kale and chard we pick each morning.

But the spinach? Its season seems to slip right by, and I can never get enough.

Maybe it’s the tender baby leaves. The subtle, mineral bite. The vibrant green color or nutritional punch of Vitamins A, D and B12.

Maybe it’s spinach’s versatility. This is a leaf you can use in myriad ways:

1. It’s a perfect side sauteed in walnut or olive oil.

2. It makes a lovely base for a salad of other spring vegetables like asparagus and radishes:

salad1
Toss baby spinach leaves with quartered radishes, thinly sliced raw asparagus and snipped chives or dill. Dress with 1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon grainy mustard and 2-3 tablespoons walnut oil.

3. It provides a glistening green and a touch of crunch when tossed with hot pasta:

orzo salad
Cook 1 cup orzo according to package directions. While it’s cooking, place baby spinach, halved cherry tomatoes and roughly chopped basil in a bowl. Drain the orzo and pour over the vegetables. Toss with a bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar.

4. It adds depth to pesto and herb oil.

5. It’s more interesting on a sandwich than iceberg or romaine lettuce.

6. It keeps avocado dips and sauces from turning muddy:

avocado2
Add a handful of spinach leaves to your favorite guacamole or avocado dip recipe. It’ll keep the mixture from turning brown. This avocado dip is 24 hours old and still emerald green.

Our spinach season is just beginning, but it won’t last long.

I plan to savor every day.

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