By Barbara Beltrami

Recently faced with a 2½-pound bag of spinach, I was reminded of a visit with my friend at her wine estate in Tuscany where after cooking with her, I came away with a whole new attitude about and repertoire for spinach. In the ways she prepared it, it was a far cry from the plain old green stuff boiled or microwaved or taken out of a can. In fact, the things she did with it were such treats that second helpings were de rigueur. Consider these adaptations of her recipes, which move spinach to a sublime and savory taste echelon.

Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts

YIELD: Makes 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

2½ ounces unsalted butter

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed, drained and squeezed dry

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 ounces golden raisins, soaked in warm water 10 minutes and drained

2 ounces pine nuts, lightly toasted

DIRECTIONS: 

In large skillet, melt butter, add spinach and salt and pepper and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Stir in raisins and pine nuts and cook over medium low heat a few more minutes. Serve with meat, poultry or fish.

Pasta with Spinach, Gorgonzola and Mascarpone Cheese

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound pasta such as penne, rigatoni or ziti

1 pound fresh or frozen spinach, cooked, drained, squeezed dry and chopped, liquid reserved

½ pound Gorgonzola cheese, diced

2 ounces mascarpone cheese

1 ounce grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS: 

Cook pasta according to package directions. Boil one cup of reserved spinach liquid (if not enough, add pasta cooking liquid). Meanwhile put the cheeses and pepper into a heat-proof pasta bowl; mash them together with a fork until they are well blended. While it is still hot, put cooked pasta in bowl with cheeses; add spinach and toss vigorously to combine; if sauce is too thick add a little of the spinach liquid and toss again. Serve immediately with a chilled dry white wine. 

Little Spinach and Gruyere Soufflés

YIELD: Makes 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 ounce unsalted butter plus extra for greasing individual soufflé dishes

1 ounce flour

1 cup boiling milk

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed, cooked, squeezed dry and finely chopped

Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

4 large eggs, separated

7 ounces Gruyere cheese, diced

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Dried breadcrumbs

DIRECTIONS: 

Preheat oven to 375 F. In small saucepan melt butter. Stir in flour, then slowly add hot milk; stirring constantly, cook mixture for 5 minutes; add spinach, salt, pepper and nutmeg; stir and let cool. With wire whisk, stir in egg yolks, Gruyere and Parmesan. Beat egg whites until stiff; gently fold into mixture. Grease individual soufflé molds and dust with breadcrumbs. Place equal amounts of mixture into each soufflé dish; bake 20 minutes; serve immediately with thin breadsticks

Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

2 ounces unsalted butter

2 pounds cooked fresh spinach, drained, squeezed dry and finely chopped

1 pound ricotta

5 ounces sifted flour

5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

3 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Grated nutmeg to taste

1 ounce melted unsalted butter

4 sage leaves, minced

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS: 

In large skillet, melt the two ounces of butter; add prepared spinach and, stirring frequently, cook 5 minutes. Put spinach in a large bowl; add ricotta, flour, 5 ounces Parmesan, breadcrumbs, egg yolks, egg, salt and pepper and nutmeg; mix to thoroughly combine; refrigerate for one hour. Remove mixture from fridge and roll into little balls (about 1- to 1½-inch in diameter). Carefully drop balls into pot of gently boiling salted water and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Preheat broiler. With skimmer remove balls, drain well and place in a greased ovenproof dish. Dot with melted butter and sage, sprinkle with remaining two tablespoons of grated Parmesan and place under hot broiler a few minutes to lightly brown. Serve hot with a mixed salad.

 

NO COMMENTS

Leave a Reply