Low-Energy/Easy Spinach Salad…amaZulu Style

Side Note: During PST our language group created a news show for an assignment that involved a skit with commands. My section of Pheka ne Peace Corps (Cooking with Peace Corps) where I was a PCV version of the Anal Retentive Chef (what…I had to use commands related to cleaning). In real life, unless the food will actually be consumed by other people (I do not want to be that public health student who gave everyone food poisoning even though I know the rules) my standards are extremely low.

IMG_1714 My host sister (and roommate) is an incredible cook. This week I am starting to obtain cooking lessons from her. Baking is one of my joys in life, but stove cooking is not my strength. The one piece of heavy duty cooking equipment I have is a dilapidated (one of the legs fell off) gas stove, so it is a perfect opportunity to learn food production via pots.

Wednesday I did my usual after work routine, and interacting with host family in the kitchen. I was planning to go back to my room and relax for the rest of the evening as I was really tired, when Mama asked me, “Zama do you know how to cook spinach?” I responded that yes I am capable of cooking spinach but not in South Africa. She then mentioned if I knew how to cook spinach salad. At that present moment the wood stove was roaring and everyone was wearing a jersey/sweater. I was almost confident they did not mean raw spinach with goat cheese, strawberries, and balsamic venerate, one of my favorite summer lunches (enjoy one for me). So I said that it probably means something else in America. Mama leaves and generously returns later with ingredients for this dinner. She and my host sister proceed to tell me how to cook spinach salad. After thanking them I got up to leave while letting them know that I may not get to this until Thursday evening (not lying when I was tired and in this case temporarily not feeling well). My host sister laughed and declared, “Zama it is easy! It takes 15 minutes and then you can go to sleep.”

I went back to my side of the house and since my family was so kind to give me their leftover produce, it was worth a try. They were right! It was easy/kulula and maybe brought my energy levels back up.

Whether you are dealing with long workdays, over-stimulation, or a stomach that did not agree with the afternoon snack choice, this simple 15 minute “salad” keeps you warm and provides an iron boost during the Drakensburg Winter. It is definitely becoming one of my staples.


Little bit of oil (I have olive oil at present)/amafutha
6 leaves of fresh spinach/ispinashi
1 tomato/utamatisi
1 onion/u-anyanisi

Chop/Gawula the onion into dice-status. Gently fry them in the olive oil in some stove-pot (I used a sauce pan). Gawula the tomato and add the pieces to the onions once the onions reach a golden brown color. Add the tomato and cook/pheka under medium heat. Once the mixture is soft, add the spinach. Cover the pot with a lid so the spinach shrinks under the heat. Serve when you are ready.

Serves one person for dinner/next day’s lunch

Note: you can add potatoes/amazambane to make it more filling. Also chopping the spinach would help it fit better in (my case) dinky sauce pans.


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