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52 New Recipes in 2010 – 08, Spinach and Yoghurt Salad

August 23, 2010

My housemates and I have started getting a veg box from the fabulous Growing Communities in Hackney. I’d heard about them ages ago, as a sometimes-devotee of the Stoke Newington Farmers’ Market, and had been considering getting a veg box for a while, but just couldn’t bring myself to cycle to Newington Green every week to pick up a load of potatoes, lazy sod that I am. However, they just opened a pick-up point nearer where we live, so we decided to give it a go.

I used to have a veg box at my old place. It was always exciting when the box arrived on Friday (I worked from home in those days, so it really was the highlight of my week), and I’d chat to the woman delivering it about my strawberry plants or whatever, and then cook something exciting to fight that ‘It’s Friday, I want to get a take-away and flop on the sofa’ feeling. Planning the week’s meals – eat kale immediately because it goes bitter and nasty, salads and greens for the first few days, save the root veg for later, manically eat a surfeit of potatoes and things-you-don’t-like-much the night before the new box came… At first, there was a fantastic local scheme run by two really friendly women, but sadly they moved to Australia and I had to go with Riverford for a while. Which was fine. Miles better than supermarket veg, and still good value, but they do seem to be getting less ‘local’ as they get bigger. (This, however, is a rant for another time.) Then another local-ish scheme, Somerfield Smith, started up, but I moved away shortly afterwards.

I’d always thought my life in London was too hectic for such things, but it’s worked quite well so far. If only because having a pile of wholesome veg staring at me forces me to do something with it. Hate wasting food. Growing Communities don’t deliver, which I was a bit concerned about, but actually it makes more sense – this isn’t a suburban commuter town, it’s a busy part of London. I don’t have a private front garden set back from the main road with a sheltered corner to keep the box in, and it’s only 10 minutes out of my way to pick the bags up on my way home from work. I can even get both the fruit and veg bags into my bike baskets, AND cycle home without spilling plums all over the place. Hurrah.

Not only am I eating much more healthily, I’m also much more enthusiastic about cooking. I’m also cooking for other people more. Hurrah for food-based sociable-ness! (That’s what we anthropologists call it. Honest.) Growing Communities is also just the kind of organisation that I really want my money to go to – as well as the tasty veg, they also have apprenticeships for new growers and try to make their produce available to more people by accepting Healthy Start vouchers, giving discounts to pensioners and adapting their payment plans for people on irregular incomes. Local food is often criticised for being elitist and expensive – there are reasons why it’s more expensive, but that’s part of the problem, so it’s great to see this being challenged, and to support sustainable local systems.

And so onto the main point of this post, the first recipe from the new veg box, from the back of a damp piece of paper telling me what’s in this week’s box: spinach and yoghurt salad.


  • 3 tbs chopped onion
  • 60g (2 oz) butter
  • 500g (1Ib) spinach, cooked & chopped
  • 150 ml (1/4 pt) natural yogurt
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt & pepper


Cook the onion in butter until yellowish but not soft. Add the cooked, chopped spinach and heat the spinach with the onions for a few minutes. Mix the yogurt, garlic and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the spinach and onion mixture while still hot, stirring everything together. Season to taste. Serve chilled. (to cook spinach – wash the leaves, shake off water, place in a saucepan over a medium heat, put lid on pan – and cook for few minutes – checking to make sure the spinach doesn’t stick to the pan).

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