JEFF TIEDEMAN: 'The Boot' had the best spinach in townWhat I remember best about the Bronze Boot was the delicious spinach salad that came with your meal. There never was any question about what kind of salad Therese or I would order with our dinner. The salad was so good that the only place in town where I can find a better bowl of greens is at our house.
Younger people and those who are new to the area probably didn’t pay much attention to the announcement a couple of weeks ago that the Bronze Boot — an icon among food establishments in Grand Forks — had closed its doors and will not reopen.
“The Boot,” as it was affectionately called by many of its patrons, was opened in 1954 by the late Darcy Fonder. It was perhaps best known for its quality steaks dinners, and in the fall, for its deep-fried Bull Fries (also called Rocky Mountain oysters by some).
But what I remember best about the place on North Washington Street that was easily recognized by a neon sign in the shape of a boot was the delicious spinach salad that came with your meal. There never was any question about what kind of salad Therese or I would order with our dinner.
The salad was so good that the only place in town where I can find a better bowl of greens is at our house. Therese makes a salad that is second to none — no matter what she has for ingredients. (Her secret is homemade vinaigrette, a combination of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and a little sugar.)
Right now, her salads are made up of volunteer leaf lettuce (two varieties) from our garden and complemented with kale, iceberg lettuce or a little spinach from our neighborhood Hugo’s supermarket.
It won’t be too long, though, that we’ll have fresh spinach from our garden as well as kale. And later, there will be another green, Malabar spinach.
I really like this vegetable — which really isn’t spinach but tastes similar — because unlike spinach grown in the northern U.S. that bolts when it gets hot, Malabar is a very warm-season crop and is extremely heat-tolerant. Plus, it is a climber, so it can be grown on a trellis, which makes picking easier.
As you can tell, I love spinach, which is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (Iran). But if you think that salad is the only use we find for this magnificent veggie that kids loved to hate and the cartoon character Popeye ate by the can (to inspire youngsters to eat it), you are really missing out.
One of our favorite uses for spinach is in vegetable lasagna. Another is in a tangy pasta and bean soup, which gets its kick from balsamic vinegar and horseradish.
Now, I have another recipe to try that we may add to that list. It comes from Senora Almquist of rural Cummings, N.D. Senora, who with her husband, Basil, travels to Grand Forks three to four times a week to exercise at Altru’s Fitness Center. She passed along an original recipe the other day for a crustless quiche (basically carb-free), which can be made with fresh or canned spinach. Other ingredients include eggs, of course, three kinds of cheese and sausage. It sounds like the perfect dish for a late breakfast or brunch.
Perhaps the best reason for eating spinach is that it’s good for you. Spinach is high in calcium, folic acid, potassium, iron, magnesium, vitamins C and A, lutein and zeaxanthin, ingredients that promote bone, eye and neural tube health, help the production of red blood cells and steady your heartbeat and blood pressure.
And as Popeye used to say, you will be “strong to the finish” if you eats your spinach.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.