This weeks recipe can be made from scratch or, true-life to Roman resourcefulness with what remains, could put leftovers to wreak. Either channel, it celebrates the seasons reward of lively spinach and is perfect with a Sicilian orange and fennel salad
Big pellets of spinach ever catch my seeing on the uncommon moments I go in one of the smarter of Testaccios food shops. This is ridiculous considering the cabinets of cheese and entire walls of cured meat that could be taking my notice. Nonetheless, the luminous light-green, cricket-ball sized globes of blanched spinach that sit on a lily-white tray at the figurehead of the ready-prepared food slouse are the things I find myself looking at again and again. My train of thought is always the same. They are 14 euros each! Who buys these dances? Acquiring my own at home, I have found there must be a kilo of( hardy) spinach in each one. At the moment spinach is 2. 50 a kilo at world markets, so there is serious profit in these balls.
Good spinach should be lively, it should crunch and squeal as you substance it into the pocket writes Jane Grigson. I make she would have approved of my farming fruit and veg soldier Filippo on Testaccio market. His spinach needs to be battled into the crate, and then rebounds against my leg all the way residence. She would also, I think, have approved of the eject bagful I bought on the Uxbridge Road yesterday, which is now sitting in a colander in my sisters kitchen in London. I enjoy this parity of parts in my two countries. I like hardy wintertime spinach collections, with their crumpled foliages, ribbed stanch with pink tips, appearing robust, yet at the same meter sugared and tender.
Introduced to Italy by the Arabs in the 11 th century, the spinach arise near Rome is excellent. Generally, it is merely helped, shrivelled, well-drained and dressed with olive oil and a spritz of lemon. Another good Roman way is strascinata dragged in olive oil and garlic, sometimes with raisins and pine seeds. All that supposed, butter is what I pray with spinach a lot, thinking of a Jane Grigson recipe in which spinach is wilted, then reheated several times, contributing more butter each time, until it is the richest nonsense, a spoonful of which knocks the socks off creamed spinach. Butter is also key on bread under spinach and hollandaise, or melted on those pesky-to-poach, but excellent spinach and ricotta dumplings that Tuscans announce gnudi .
Todays recipe though, is for none of the above , nor is it the spinach curry I am looking forward to eating while I am in London. It is a spinach and rice cake, which firstly arose about for me because of spinach and rice leftovers. Or as an Italian would say the avanzi di spinaci e riso avanzi intend what remains, but also something advantageous, which is the way Italians discover leftovers. Of route Italy isnt alone or special in having resourceful recipes for using leftovers: its a feature in traditional home cooking in all countries. But Italy is where I know, and where recipes for leftovers truly do still convention, helping cooking feel like a continuum, one food and meal rolling into the next rather than a series of quarantined occasions.
Whether built with advantageous leftovers, or cooked from scratch, this is surprisingly tasty and good sentiment; savoury and pleasingly plump. It is all very straightforward rice and spinach mixed with its friends: butter, nutmeg, parmesan and eggs, pressed into a tin then broiled. The tin helps create a crusted bottom. It is good acted red-hot, warm or at chamber temperature. Spinach and orange are good attendants, so my Sicilian orange and fennel salad, which I roll out whenever possible, is my pick of accompaniment here. Otherwise there is the exceedingly sociable peperonata. Your suggestions are welcome. If you do prepare the spinach for this, perhaps cook more than you need and determine your spinach advantage into a ball.
Spinach and rice cake torta di spinaci e riso
I am not going to assume you all have leftover spinach and rice, so here is the recipe from scratch, which should also help you get a handle on sums so when you do have leftovers you can do it by eye.
500g fresh spinach
250g Italian short particle risotto rice( such as arborio or carnaroli)
Salt and black pepper
A small-time onion
20g butter, plus more for the dish
3 eggs, beaten
A handful of fine breadcrumbs
1 Pick over the spinach, discarding discoloured buds and tough stalkings, then bathe in a couple of changes of cold water. Stuff the wet spinach into a large wash with no additional ocean and concoct, treated over a low-pitched hot until it withers. Tip it into a colander and then leave to depletion thoroughly.
2 Boil the rice in salted irrigate for 10 hours, then drain.
3 Peel and finely dice the onion. In a large sauteing or saute wash, fry the onion in the butter with a small pinch of salt until soft and golden. Use scissors to roughly chop the spinach and then add to the fry pan along with the rice.
4 Pull the wash from the ignite, allow to cool a bit before lending the defeated eggs, parmesan, nutmeg, black pepper and a pinch of salt if necessary.
5 Butter and dust a patty tin or mould with fine breadcrumbs. Tip-off the smorgasbord into the mould and then press flat with the back of a spoonful. Bake at 200 C/ 400 F/ gas mark 6 for 25 times or until the cake is situated conglomerate, a bit crispy and golden. Stand to sit for five minutes before passing out, or helping directly from the tin in wedges. Also very good at room temperature.