Sauteed Spinach with Garlic and Lemon - Spanish Sabores

Sauteed Spinach with Garlic and Lemon Recipe

Today David shares a humble side dish that brightens any plate. This sauteed spinach with garlic and lemon is my go-to easy side for chicken and fish.

Sauteed spinach and garlic in a white bowl.
Serve this sauteed spinach recipe as a side dish for almost anything you like! Photo from Stuart Spivack.

I never gave much thought to spinach before I moved to Spain. I ate it, sure. But I didn’t enjoy it.

It always seemed so underwhelming, limp, dull, and lifeless on the side of the plate. Good for the body, but not for the tongue.

That all changed when I moved to Seville. The locals really know how to make spinach sing! Whether it’s a plate of espinacas con garbanzos or espinacas a la catalana, spinach gets a taste transformation.

But one of my favorite spinach recipes is also the simplest. A friend of mine gave me this recipe for sauteed spinach with garlic and lemon, a classic side dish for grilled fish or chicken. She got it from her mother, who got it from hers… and so on and so on!

Spinach for any time of day

The beauty of this spinach recipe is its simplicity. Just spinach, garlic, lemon, and olive oil get you one delicious plate of greens.

It’s a great side dish for fish and white meat, but it’s even great with breakfast. On the side of an omelet or fried mushrooms, these leaves of sauteed spinach add freshness and the slightest touch of wonderful bitterness. While eating spinach for breakfast would be blasphemous in Spain, I’d highly recommend it!

My recipe calls for baby spinach. You can use more mature spinach or other bitter greens like kale, collards, or cavolo nero, but they’ll need a bit longer in the pan. You might want to massage their leaves firmly with your hands for 4 or 5 minutes beforehand. (It’s also a great way to get more lemony flavor into the dish, just put them in a mixing bowl with a splash of olive oil and an equal splash of lemon juice). You can use other baby greens like arugula and follow the recipe exactly. Enjoy!

More Tempting Spanish Sides

If you are looking for Spanish inspired side dishes, why not try these too?

Sauteed spinach and garlic in a white bowl.

Sauteed Spinach with Garlic and Lemon

This sauteed spinach with garlic and lemon is as quick and easy as it is delicious! In 5 minutes you'll have a great side dish for fish, chicken, or your morning eggs.
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Spanish
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Author: David Pope


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic diced or crushed
  • 5 oz baby spinach leaves (about 3 tightly packed cups)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice


  • Place a medium skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.
  • When the oil is hot (but not smoking), add the garlic to the pan. Sautee, stirring occasionally, for one minute until the garlic is aromatic and starting to go golden.
  • Add the spinach leaves and lemon juice and sautee for another 3-4 minutes. Stir frequently. When the leaves are wilted (but not brown), remove the pan from heat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
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Thanks for checking out my recipe for sauteed spinach with garlic and lemon! What will you serve yours with tonight? 


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