This lemon garlic sautéed spinach is the classic Italian restaurant side dish that everyone loves. This healthy side dish is loaded with garlicky flavor and light on the fat and it comes together in just 5 minutes.
Ten years ago, I was waitressing in a prominent Italian restaurant to put myself through college. I knew early on that I would have a much easier time making money as a waitress than as a cook in the back of the house.
Nonetheless that did not stop me from chatting with the cooks in the kitchen on the downtime and getting all the secrets from them.
One of my favorite dishes back then was a super simple garlic sautéed spinach loaded with lemon,white wine and obviously garlic. One day on a particularly slow Monday night I inquired to what the secret was. And then I saw it.
The cook grabbed a pan, poured in some olive oil, a helpful heaping of garlic and butter. LOTS AND LOTS of butter. My favorite so called healthy side dish was loaded with butter.
Shortly thereafter I took it into my own hands, to recreate this dish at home. Without the butter.
Instead of the butter I just used loads of other flavor boosters to replace the butter without ever losing the flavor.
Loads of garlic, red pepper flakes, white wine and lemon juice served as the cooking liquid for this garlicky goodness. The first time around, I used a tab of butter, fearful that I may take away all the flavor of this dish by eliminating all the butter.
However, the next few times, I pulled my big girl pants up and removed all the butter. And…while there is NOTHING that can possibly emulate the flavor of butter, I found that this dish did not need it. The spinach was nicely complimented by the dry white wine, savory garlic and spicy pepper flakes.
The secret to making this spinach super tender and delicious is quite simple.
- Do not overcook the spinach. Once it wilts, toss it around with all the ingredients and serve immediately.
- Place a lid over the pan to increase the steam accumulation in the pan while the spinach wilts. This will decrease the cooking time and therefore allow all the flavors to infuse nicely.
My favorite Italian restaurant side dish was re-vamped to the healthy king that it claimed to be. But best of all: it came together in under 10 minutes, making it the ultimate side dish for any dinner or holiday party. Just prep all the ingredients before hand and cook it up as a resting bed for salmon, like this spicy honey garlic salmon in foil, or chicken, scallops or just eat it all up on its own like I always do.
So grab some spinach…or a lot of it actually because it does wilt down to almost nothing…and enjoy the garlicky and lemony goodness.
I did…and I even talked all about it on Facebook Live! Make sure to check it out!
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 pound of baby spinach
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- ¼ lemon, juiced
- ¼ cup vegetable or chicken stock
- ¼ cup white wine
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the olive oil, garlic and red chili flakes over medium low heat.
- Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- Add in spinach, carefully to the pan. Add in the remaining ingredients and place the lid on the pan.
- After 2-3 minutes, remove the lid, combine everything and taste.
- Serve immediately