Posted by: lisetta | January 9, 2008

A simple contorno

spinach  Pic grabbed from

Unlike traditional American meals, whose structure equals one meat to two sides like a vegetable and a carb served all at once, Italian meals typically appear in up to 5 courses – or if it’s the New year’s Eve “cenone”, 10. The courses include the antipasto (appetizer), primo (pasta, soup or rice), secondo (meat, fish, or egg), contorno (vegetable) and dolce (dessert, most often a piece of fruit).

Even with dinner parties, I rarely assemble the five courses anymore. Most often, for American friends, it’s either the primo or the secondo and a contorno. This week, sauteed spinach was on our plates. Braised in a touch of vegetable broth and dressed with olive oil and salt, it truly is the perfect accompaniment to a secondo braised in wine (like scaloppine al madeira). 

I’m not really sure why so many restaurants only serve spinach riddled with minced garlic, which overpowers its natural sweetness with bitterness, but I can appreciate the Greeks’ addition of a squirt of lemon to the dressing. Indian saag dishes, like the one served at a work luncheon Friday, mask all original flavors of the vegetable, IMHO … not that there’s anything wrong with that.  🙂

Did you know that spinach happens to also be one of the world’s healthiest foods



  1. they serve spinach “riddled with minced garlic” because it’s good! I’ve never tasted garlic to be bitter..must be my taste buds, aged as they are. lol spinach pairs very well with feta too. love those intense flavors!

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