Sauteed spinach is a quick and healthy side dish to elevate any meal. Fresh spinach cooks down in batches to wilt the large volume of greens. Minced garlic infuses into the cooking oil, seasoning the vegetable along with salt, pepper, and a splash of lemon juice.
Spinach can be a healthy and tasty mealtime hero or a mushy mess. Sauteeing these greens is the best way to make the leaves tender, while seamlessly adding in flavor. There are different types of spinach to choose from, but flat-leaf or curly-leaf works best for this method of cooking.
After some preparation and washing, we’re going to cook in batches to effectively wilt down the volume. The sauteed spinach is seasoned with a generous amount of minced garlic and freshly squeezed lemon juice. The entire process takes less than 30 minutes. A delicious skillet of greens ready to serve with your favorite protein.
How to make sauteed spinach
- Thoroughly wash the spinach leaves and dry in a salad spinner.
- Heat olive oil over high heat in a large skillet.
- Add the spinach in handfuls, stirring and cooking until wilted.
- Transfer to a colander and squeeze out excess liquid.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat, then add the garlic to the pan.
- Stir in the drained spinach.
- Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper
I prefer heartier varieties like the larger and more robust flat-leaf or curly-leaf that hold up better to high heat and movement in the pan. Baby spinach is delicate and prone to overcooking if not carefully watched. Make sure to remove the long stems if still left intact and wash the leaves very well before adding to the hot oil.
Cook in batches
The fresh vibrant green leaves take up a large amount of space in the pan, so it’s best to cook a handful at a time until the spinach is wilted. This process takes only a few minutes to reduce 1 pound of leafy greens. Using high heat quickly cooks them down, while the brief cook time ensures that they don’t overcook.
One quick way to add aromatics to the dish is to use minced garlic. When added to the warmed olive oil, the pieces become lightly toasted, with a delightful nutty flavor. It’s important to constantly stir the garlic to prevent it from burning, and only cooking for under a minute until the aromas can be detected.
Adding in certain types of salt, like kosher salt or sea salt adds a pleasant briny taste to the neutral greens. A small amount of fresh lemon juice added right before serving provides a brightness to the greens and hides any bitterness.
- Chopped bell peppers
- Sliced mushrooms
- Crispy bacon
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
What to serve with sauteed spinach
Be sure to drain the spinach!
Raw spinach is made up of about 90% water, which moves to the surface when cooked. The excess water needs to be gently squeezed out right after cooking so that the leaves don’t become mushy. Using a pair of tongs does the trick!
Sautéed Spinach with Garlic
- 1 pound (454 g) spinach, flat-leaf or curly-leaf spinach
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon juice
- Remove the stems from the spinach. Wash and dry using a salad spinner. It’s okay if there is a little residual moisture on the leaves.
- Heat a large pan over high heat then add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Once the oil is hot add the spinach a few handfuls at a time. Stir to allow the leaves to slightly wilt before adding in the next handful.
- Cook and stir constantly until the spinach is evenly wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Transfer the spinach to a colander and use tongs to squeeze out the excess liquid.
- Dry the pan with paper towels.
- Heat the pan over medium heat, then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add garlic and saute until fragrant and lightly browned, 30 to 60 seconds.
- Add back the drained spinach and stir to combine, cook for 30 seconds.
- Turn off the heat and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice then stir to combine.
- Taste and season with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice as desired.
- Transfer spinach to a bowl and serve warm.
- This recipe yields about 2 cups sauteed spinach.
- Serving Size: ½ cup