Spinach Wilted With Raisins, Pinenuts and Balsamic

The spinach looks so pretty at this time of year with its pink tinged stems and lush green leaves, I thought that I would cook a dish just in honour of it.  And I was particularly pleased with this Sicilian influenced dish with chilli, pinenuts and balsamic, lending the spinach a delicious sweet and sour flavour. Works well with others greens, such as chard too. You can use either true spinach or baby spinach but if using baby spinach you also have the option of turning it into a salad and leaving it raw.

Spinach Wilted With Raisins, Pinenuts and Balsamic

1 red onion

2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced

extra virgin olive oil

350g spinach

50g pinenuts, toasted

50g raisins

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Pinch chilli flakes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and finely slice the onion. Sweat it gently in a little olive oil and some salt for about 10 to 15 minutes until beginning to caramelise. Meanwhile, strip the spinach from the stems, wash it and left to drain in a colander for as long as possible.  Soak the raisins in a little boiling water. Add the garlic to the onions and fry for a minute or two more. Add the spinach with another pinch of salt and wilt until cooked. Add the balsamic and reduce until dry. Check seasoning and add the drained raisins, pinenuts and chilli flakes. Serve hot or warm.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

Next up, and still on the spinach theme, another really easy supper. I have got this recipe down to a fine art now and can have the whole dish made and on the table in less than an hour.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni 2

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

Serve 2

Béchamel Sauce

25g butter plus an extra knob

25g plain flour

250mls milk

50g cheddar cheese, grated

8 dried cannelloni

250g picked spinach (stalks removed) washed

150g ricotta

50g grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. When boiling, add the spinach and immerse in the water. Bring back to the boil and allow to cook for a minute or two. Remove the spinach with a slotted spoon and spread out onto a dry tea towel to cool down quickly. When cool, use the tea towel to squeeze out any excess moisture. Finely chop. Melt the knob of butter in a large pan. Add the spinach. Season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper, then set aside.

Meanwhile make your béchamel. Begin by melting the butter gently – don’t over-heat it or let it brown, as this will affect the colour and flavour of the sauce. As soon as the butter melts, remove from the heat and add the flour. Stir well and return to medium heat and cook until your mixture resembles sand. Now add the milk and whisk. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and add your grated cheese. Season to taste with salt.

Stir the ricotta and parmesan into the spinach and check seasoning. Tip the mixture into a disposable piping bag or a clean plastic bag and cut an edge off the corner about the same size as the holes in the cannelloni. Squeeze the mixture into the cannelloni tubes. Lay them in a gratin dish and pour over the béchamel. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden brown.

Spinach and Ricotta

Creamed Spinach with Baked with Eggs

I think whatever veg box you opt for this week, you are pretty much guaranteed to get some spinach in it. This is True Spinach and one of my favourite varieties. I like to blanch it briefly in boiling water before allowing it to cool and removing any excess water. Then it is a simple case of a quick fry in a little olive oil or butter with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Delicious!

Spinach is a versatile leafy green that features in just about every cuisine on the planet. It was first cultivated in Persia several thousands of years ago. It was brought to Europe by the Moors when they invaded Spain, and presented to China as a gift from the King of Nepal in the seventh century.

Spinach is a highly nutritious vegetable. Green pigments indicate the presence of antioxidant nutrients and phytochemicals such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin – important for healthy eyes. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin C if eaten raw, as well as vitamins A and B, folic acid, calcium, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin and iron.

So this week, I have not one, but three spinach recipes for you.  The first is a variation of a recipe which I wrote last year, but featured kale instead of spinach. However, I love creamed spinach and I thought I would try this spring adaptation. It makes a lovely, quick and easy lunch.

Creamed Spinach with Baked with Eggs 2 Creamed Spinach with Baked with Eggs 3 Creamed Spinach with Baked with Eggs

Creamed Spinach with Baked with Eggs

Serves 4

500g picked spinach (stalks removed) washed

50g butter

½ tsp grated nutmeg

250ml double cream

4 large free-range eggs

50g finely grated parmesan

Toasted sourdough bread to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. When boiling, add the spinach and immerse in the water. Bring back to the boil and allow to cook for a minute or two. Remove the spinach with a slotted spoon and spread out onto a dry tea towel to cool down quickly. When cool, use the tea towel to squeeze out any excess moisture. Roughly chop. Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the spinach. Season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper, then set aside. Put the cream into a small pan over a medium-high heat and boil for about 1 minute, stirring now and then, until it has thickened slightly. Stir the cream into the spinach, then divide the mixture equally between 2 x 500ml shallow, ovenproof baking dishes (or 4 x 250ml individual ones). Make 2 hollows in the spinach mixture in each dish (or 1 in each individual dish) and crack in the eggs. Lightly season, then sprinkle over the parmesan. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the eggs are cooked to your liking – I like the yolks still runny and the whites set. Serve with sourdough toast.

Creamed Spinach with Baked with Eggs 3