Red Kitten Spinach
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Red Kitten spinach consists of moderately sized, broad, and flat leaves attached to slender, fibrous stems. The dark green leaves are semi-smooth with curved edges and have a crisp, tender texture. Within the leaves, there are also patches of red-purple coloring scattered across the surface with dark red veins connecting into the crunchy, firm stems. Red Kitten spinach, when raw, has a chewy consistency with a sweet, vegetal, and earthy flavor.
Red Kitten spinach is available year-round, with a peak season in the summer through early winter.
Red Kitten spinach, botanically classified as Spinacia oleracea, is a unique, red leaf hybrid that belongs to the Amaranthaceae family. The bi-colored cultivar is a specialty variety primarily grown in home gardens and is favored for its fast-growing nature, versatility in culinary applications, and adaptability in various climates. Red Kitten spinach is most popularly cultivated and harvested as a baby spinach variety, commonly used fresh in salads, but it can also be grown to full maturity for use in cooked applications.
Red Kitten spinach is a good source of fiber, which can help regulate digestion, and contains some folate, calcium, and iron. The greens also provide vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that can boost the immune system and increase collagen production within the body.
Red Kitten spinach is best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as sautéing, steaming, braising, and baking. The leaves can be layered into sandwiches, wraps, and burgers, tossed into salads, or used as a bed of colorful greens for cooked meats. The fresh leaves also have a sturdy texture that can withstand sauces, dressings, and vinaigrettes. In addition to raw applications, Red Kitten spinach develops a tender texture when cooked, but it is important to note that the red pigment found in the leaves fades slightly with heat. Red Kitten leaves can be steamed as a light side dish, baked into creamy dips, tossed into soups, and stirred into pasta or risotto. They can also be cooked into omelets, blended into sauces, or creamed with other winter greens. Red Kitten spinach pairs well with cheeses such as havarti, feta, and blue, fruits such as strawberries, pears, and grapes, nuts such as walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, and almonds, ginger, honey, shallots, mushrooms, tomatoes, and caramelized onions. The leaves will keep 1-2 weeks when stored with paper towels in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
In the United States, Crystal City is a small town in Texas that has proclaimed itself the spinach capital of the world. The city first began growing spinach in the early 1900s when the railroad was built, and this provided an open channel for the greens to be transported across the country. With increased success in spinach production, Crystal City also created a four-day spinach festival in 1936 to further boost the town’s reputation and attract visitors. The first festival consisted of visitors dressing up as characters from the Popeye cartoon, and bushels of spinach was used as decoration around a dance floor. In the modern-day, the festival is still celebrated, attracting over 60,000 visitors, and activities have expanded to include a 5k run, cooking demonstrations, a spinach-eating contest, and live entertainment. The city also has a statue of Popeye, the famous spinach-loving cartoon character, which has been a landmark of the town since 1937.
Original spinach varieties were native to Persia and have been cultivated since ancient times. The greens were then introduced to Europe in the 15th century and the United States in the 19th century, where many new varieties were selectively bred and developed, including red-leafed cultivars. While the exact origins of Red Kitten spinach are unknown, the variety is found through online seed catalogs for home garden use in the United States and Europe and can also be found at local farmer’s markets.
Recipes that include Red Kitten Spinach. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Tant Hill Farm||Warm Red Kitten Spinach Salad With Wasabi Arugula and Farm Fresh Hard Boiled Eggs|