Sautéed Spinach with Bread Crumbs

This sautéed spinach with bread crumbs is an easy, healthy side dish made with fresh spinach cooked with garlic and spritzed with lemon juice and toasted bread crumbs.

A white serving bowl filled with sauteed spinach and bread crumbs.

This sautéed spinach with bread crumbs exquisitely flaunts the finer points of that classic Italian trick of frugally making crumbs from day-old bread, buttering them up in a skillet until crisp, and then using them as enticement to get everyone to eat their vegetables.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Sautéed Spinach with Bread Crumbs

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 20 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 1 reviews
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  • For the bread crumbs
  • For the spinach


Make the bread crumbs

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse the bread with the minced garlic until it forms small crumbs.

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the bread crumb mixture and cook, stirring, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes.

Immediately turn the bread crumbs onto a plate and scatter them so they can cool.

Make the spinach

Return the skillet to medium heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet, about 3 tablespoons.

Toss in the sliced garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add half the spinach to the skillet. (It may seem to fill the skillet but don’t worry, it’ll cook down quickly.) Frequently toss the spinach, being certain to also toss the garlic so it doesn’t burn. Cook until the spinach begins to wilt.

Working quickly, immediately add the remaining spinach to the skillet and toss and stir until all the spinach has wilted. This will take around 5 minutes total if using baby spinach or up to 10 minutes total if using mature spinach.

Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Taste and, if desired, add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Pile the spinach in a serving bowl, sprinkle over all or some of the bread crumbs, and serve immediately. (If not using all the bread crumbs, you can stash the rest in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer. Rewarm in a warm oven or a skillet over low heat before using to magically return their crunch.)

Print RecipeBuy the The Corleone Family Cookbook cookbook

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This is a good way to eat your spinach. The bread crumbs add texture, crunch, and a bit of richness from cooking in the olive oil. Plus lemon and garlic pair well with spinach.

While it’s a simple recipe without many ingredients, it does take a deceptive amount of time to prepare. Much of that is related to the cleaning of the spinach. I used mature spinach, which requires more labor than the baby variety. Baby spinach would require less cooking time as well. This requires a very large skillet.

My husband found it a little bitter, but I didn’t pick up on this up so much. I think whatever bitterness there was came from the mature spinach I bought at the farmers market. We’ve been eating baby spinach a lot, which has a much milder taste than the mature greens.

The only other possible cause of bitterness is the garlic, some of which got overcooked from being on the bottom of the mound of spinach in the skillet. I tossed as much from the bottom on to the top of the pile as I could, but some garlic remained on the bottom of the skillet the whole time.

You can't go wrong with a simple Italian recipe like this one. With just a handful of quality ingredients, the recipe for sauteed spinach with a delicate and toasty bread crumb topping comes together in no time and is a wonderful accompaniment to just about any entree.

I served the spinach on the side of a hearty Italian-inspired meatloaf and some herb roasted potatoes with sweet peppers from the garden.

It’s also a wonderful lesson in how to use leftover stale bread. I had about a third of an Italian 5-grain baguette on hand, so into the food processor it went! Toasted in fruity olive oil, the bread crumbs achieve a lovely brown color and the perfect amount of crispness. That’s the wonderful thing about this recipe: the differing textures in each and every bite. The tender wilted spinach melts effortlessly in your mouth and the crunchy topping adds a pop of flavor and contrasting texture, which is lovely. With a simple squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, you are good to go.

I would love to try this with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes next time, and maybe with some baby kale instead of spinach? Or I bet even dandelion greens or chard might work well, too?


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  1. Took this lesson and learned it! My green beans were crunchy and crumbly, with nary a one left in the dish when we were done. Mmm.

    1. Love that, Maureen! Nothing makes me happier (well, not much makes me happier) than seeing someone take a recipe and make it their own. Thank you for sharing the inspiration! Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…!

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