As Italian as a side dish can get, 5 Minute Spinach with Lemon will change the way you (and your kids!) think about spinach. Not only is it fast, but this recipe makes the perfect side dish for the holiday Beef Tenderloin or on pasta with Butter and Cream Sauce.
Travelling to Italy while I was in college and with my parents over the years was a gift, no question. The experience of being Italian-American and getting to walk where my grandparents did was priceless. It was in Italy that I first became obsessed by the Italian way of preparing fresh ingredients simply and beautifully. 5 Minute Spinach with Lemon is one such recipe.
You're going to find so many ways to serve this recipe. It's literally the easiest vegetable side dish you can make for the holidays (or any day)!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Top reasons? And they all start with flavor and end with your time!
- Complex Flavor. Forget everything you know about sauteed spinach. This isn't bitter or too "spinachy". It's bright from lemon, garlicky in the best way, anda little warm heat from crushed red pepper. You'll want to eat the whole bowl!
- FIVE Minutes. I'm not kidding when I say this is a fast recipe! And because it's so fast...you have to be prepped and ready to go with all your ingredients.
- FOUR Ingredients. Discounting the seasoning, you'll use spinach, lemon, garlic, and olive oil. BOOM!
- Adaptable. Use this recipe alongside my Foolproof Chicken on top of some cooked pasta for a super easy and quick dinner. Or get really garlic-happy and serve it on top of Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil.
Ingredients You'll Need
Gather all the goods quickly because this is a fast one! You'll need:
- Fresh spinach. This cooks down - I typically use a 10 oz. container and that can serve 2-3 or top a recipe of pasta easily.
- Garlic cloves. Fresh sliced garlic sizzled in hot olive oil creates magical flavor.
- Lemon. A big hit of lemon adds a bright acidity that balances the garlic and helps mask the natural bitterness of spinach.
How to Make Sauteed Spinach
Got five minutes to make a side dish?
- Thinly slice some fresh garlic .
- Heat up some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
- Add the garlic to the pan. Love that sizzle! After the garlic has cooked for a couple of minutes, quickly add the red pepper.
- Before the garlic has browned, add a handful spinach to the pan tossing with the hot oil and garlic with tongs.
- Add in more spinach by the handful and toss with garlic and oil. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Continue adding spinach and toss until wilted but still bright green. Remove from heat. Squeeze on the lemon!
Hint: You can turn lower or even turn off the heat while the spinach is cooking. The heat from the pan and the hot oil will do the work and finish the cooking.
10 oz fresh spinach leaves serves 2-3 as a side or is perfect to toss with 1 lb. of pasta-Josie + Nina
Ways to use sauteed spinach
Add this quick sauteed spinach with garlic to your favorite recipes such as:
- Heavy Veggie. Layer into these so-good Eggplant Parmesan Stacks for an extra veggie dose and amazing garlic flavor.
- Pasta-riffic! Serve alongside some pasta tossed with the super quick Easy Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion
- Go Greek. Sprinkle over some fresh crumbled feta cheese for a nod to Greek flavors.
Only if it's whole leaf frozen spinach. Don't used any box marked "chopped or sliced" as you'll end up with a big pan of ick.
Sure! Just know you'll have to use more garlic and it'll cook super fast so you need to watch it like a hawk to avoid burning the garlic.
Be prepared. Have all of your ingredients ready to go before you even turn on the burner. The oil heats up quickly, the spinach cooks super fast and you don't want it to risk soggy spinach because you were still slicing garlic.
Make ahead. Because the spinach cooks up so quickly, I don't recommend making it ahead. It's an easy task you can pass off to a guest or one of the older kids.
For a crew. This sauteed spinach recipe double or triples easily for feeding a group.
For a few. I cook up the whole 10 ounces and use the spinach the next day tossed with a little rice or tucked into a burrito for lunch. It works like a charm!
Toss some leftover sauteed spinach with garlic with hot cooked pasta or rice and the spinach will warm from the heat.-Josie + Nina
I use a large metal skillet with deeper sides like this French skillet from All-Clad. A large cast iron skillet
Serving & Storage
- Storage. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for a couple of days.
- Freezing. I don't recommend freezing this dish.
- Reheating. While you don't really have to reheat this (and overcooking will risk it being soggy), heating for about 10 seconds in the microwave is fine.=
Before you go....
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5 Minute Spinach with Lemon
- skillet with sides
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled, on the larger side
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 10 oz fresh spinach, bagged is fine
- ¼ crushed red pepper, or less; optional
- salt and pepper , to taste
- ½ lemon
- Thinly slice garlic with a sharp paring knife.
- Heat oil in a skillet with sides over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Add garlic to skillet and allow to sizzle and cook for about two minutes to flavor the oil. After about a minute, add the crushed red pepper, if using.
- Fill the skillet with the spinach by the handful, tossing as you incorporate it into the hot oil and garlic. Season with a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. The spinach will start to wilt within 30 seconds. Keep tossing until it's as you like but remove it a few seconds before you think you should as it'll continue to cook.
- Squeeze over a healthy amount of lemon juice and serve.