Video: Spinach Dressed with Walnuts

Have you disliked a certain food all your life? I hated walnuts for a long time until I came across Mark Bittman’s Beets with Garlic Walnut Sauce. I realized the walnuts I’d been eating were rancid and inappropriately inserted into things (like brownies and banana bread!). But the beet recipe made me discover the true value of this nut. If you are a walnut hater like I was, Bittman’s recipe is sure to change you. Or, I’ll bet this Spinach Dressed with Walnuts might also do the trick.


Spinach with ground sesame (gomaae) is common. Spinach in a soy and dashi broth (ohitashi) is also common. But spinach with walnuts was something I hadn’t seen in Japanese cooking. Just reading the recipe, I knew it was a winner. I’ve made it many times and always get rave reviews. It’s a simple recipe that is on regular rotation at my house. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Spinach Dressed with Walnuts | ほうれん草のくるみあえ
Adapted from Your Japanese Kitchen 2
Makes 4 servings

If you don’t have a Japanese mortar and pestle, I imagine this would work nicely in a food processor. Give it a try and let me know your results!

12.25 oz (350g) spinach (not baby spinach)
2 oz (60g) walnuts
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp shoyu
1 ½ tsp mirin

Rinse spinach and cut into 1.5 inch sections, crosswise. Separate the stems from the leaves. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the stems first, then the leaves. Drain and run cold water over the spinach. A handful at a time, squeeze the remaining water out of the spinach, then set aside.

Toast walnuts in the oven or in a frying pan until fragrant. Remove from heat and chop into small pieces. Grind finely with a mortar and pestle (or food processor), then add the sugar, shoyu, and mirin. Add the spinach and mix well to combine.

This video was shot by my friend, Kevin Mapp. He’s a photographer and one half of the duo behind the food business, The Rice Creamery. Their gourmet rice pudding is unlike anything I’ve had—the flavors are unique and the sweetness is restrained, just the way I like it! They’re everywhere in the LA food scene—you can catch them at the Autry Farmer’s Market on Saturdays as well as other food events in the area. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter to get updates on where you can taste their latest offerings!

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4 Comments

  1. N
    Posted October 4, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    YESSSSS! same thing. i’d always hated walnuts b/c they tasted so bitter. then i had non-rancid ones – what a realization! they have such a complex and wonderful flavor and texture! this recipe looks awesome – can’t wait to try it!! thanks!

  2. Posted October 4, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    N, good to know I’m not the only one with a past walnut aversion! The real deal turns out to be one of my favorite nuts. Hope you like the recipe!

  3. Posted September 25, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    This dish is incredible! The walnut dressing really piqued my curiosity. My mind was blown — the roasted walnut really made the spinach rich and hearty. I’m addicted!

  4. Posted September 25, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    May, this is one of my favorites so it makes me happy to know you liked it, too!

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