City Palate

The Wine & Beer Issue - May June 2017

6 Quick Ways with Spinach
Jul/Aug 2009
Depending on the weather, the spinach in your garden is either chugging along nicely or it has bolted. If it’s too hot during the growing season, it will bolt quickly. But there are always the farmers’ markets for your spinach supply, and even good stuff in the plastic boxes at the supermarket. People love spinach salads. Some of us, however, find this leafy green in its raw state a bit too oxalic acidic and prefer to have it mixed in with other greens, if raw, or cooked. Generally, the small tender leaves are best for salads, the larger leaves for cooking. Remove the tough stems on the larger leaves and rinse off any garden grit.

1. Braised Spinach
From Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Dinners. The simplest way to cook spinach is in a pan with a little olive oil, butter, a grating of nutmeg and a squeeze of lemon juice, with a lid on to let it steam (de-stem the spinach first). Cook just until the spinach wilts. This will taste great and it goes with just about anything – like pasta, fish or meat. If there is excess moisture when the spinach is cooked, tilt the pan so it runs to one side, then pour it into a glass and drink the tasty spinach juice. Grate parmesan over top, if you like.

2. Spinach with Raisins & Pine Nuts
From Contorni, by Susan Simon. In a large heavy-bottom skillet or sauté pan over medium heat, melt 1 T. butter in 1 T. olive oil. Sauté 1 small onion, finely chopped, until translucent. Add 2 T. pine nuts and 2 T. raisins and stir to coat with the onion mixture. Add 3 lbs fresh spinach, rinsed and tough stems removed, in batches, stirring to combine with the other ingredients. Add each batch when the previous batch has wilted. Cook until all the spinach is tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 t. salt and 1/8 t. ground cayenne. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

3. BSLT Salad
Bacon, spinach, lettuce and tomato salad. Toss 16 cherry tomatoes and 1 garlic clove with 1/2 c. olive oil and roast in the oven at 400°F about 20 minutes until tomatoes begin to burst. Remove, reserve oil and any liquids, let tomatoes come to room temp, and mash the garlic clove with 1/2 t. salt into a smooth paste. In a bowl, whisk 1 egg yolk with 1 t. Dijon mustard and the garlic paste; drizzle in the reserved oil and liquids, bit by bit, then in a slow, steady stream until dressing is thick and emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook 12 slices of bacon until crisp, then drain on paper towels. Divide a mixture of lettuces and spinach among 4 plates. Top with bacon, tomatoes and croutons, then drizzle with dressing. Serves 4.

4. Spinach & Lentil Soup with Lemon
In a large saucepan, heat 1 T. vegetable oil over medium heat. Add 1 medium onion, diced, and 1 garlic clove, minced, and cook, stirring, until softened. Add a big pinch of cayenne pepper and several grinds of black pepper. Cook another minute or two, then add 1 bag (10 oz) fresh spinach, washed, stemmed and chopped, and cook, stirring, until wilted. Add 1 19 oz can of lentils and 5 c. vegetable or chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in the juice and zest of 1 lemon and salt to taste. Serves 4.

5. Lucy the Sometime Vegetarian’s Pasta with Spinach & Chèvre
Cook a quantity of chunky pasta, like penne, macaroni or little ears, for 4 people. Drain and keep warm. In a large sauté pan, sauté a garlic clove or two, sliced or diced, in good, fruity olive oil along with a handful of toasted almonds, until garlic is golden. Toss in a quantity of chopped sundried tomatoes or oil-cured black olives, plus a handful of grape tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until tomato skins become a little blistered. Add 1 lb. fresh young spinach, coarsely chopped. Cook, stirring, until spinach is wilted, then squeeze a large wedge of lemon over. Toss with the pasta, stir in some salt and pepper and serve in large bowls topped with crumbled chèvre or feta. Serves 4.

6. Spinach for Kids
Cook 1 lb of spaghetti. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water, and keep warm in its cooking pot. Heat a sauté pan and add a drizzle of olive oil, 1 T. butter and a grating of nutmeg. When the butter melts, add 1 lb fresh spinach, stemmed and chopped, and cook until it wilts. Season with salt and pepper, then add 1/2 c. whipping cream, 6 oz mascarpone cheese and a little of the reserved pasta cooking water to make the mixture saucy. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pour the sauce over the pasta, add 1/2 c. grated Parmesan (or more) and toss it all together. Add a bit more of the reserved cooking water if the pasta seems dry. Serve immediately to kids and adults. Serves 4.