This weeks recipe can be made from scratch or, genuine to Roman resourcefulness with what remains, could apply leftovers to handiwork. Either road, it celebrates the seasons reward of lively spinach and is perfect with a Sicilian orange and fennel salad
Big dances of spinach always catch my gaze on the rare parties I go in one of the smarter of Testaccios food shops. This is ridiculous considering the cabinets of cheese and entire walls of healed flesh that could be taking my tending. However, the bright light-green, cricket-ball sized worlds of blanched spinach that sit on a white tray at the front of the ready-prepared nutrient part 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 pellets? Establishing 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 stuff it into the luggage writes Jane Grigson. I thoughts she would have approved of my farming fruit and veg man Filippo on Testaccio market. His spinach should still be battled into the bag, and then ricochets against my leg all the lane home. She would also, I repute, 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 experience this parity of parts in my two countries. I like hardy winter spinach mixtures, with their crumpled foliages, ribbed stanch with pink tips-off, examining robust, yet at the same period sweetened and tender.
Introduced to Italy by the Arabs in the 11 th century, the spinach mature near Rome is excellent. Generally, it is simply served, wilted, well-drained and garmented 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 crave with spinach a lot, thinking of a Jane Grigson recipe in which spinach is wilted, then reheated several times, adding more butter each time, until it is the richest substance, a spoonful of which knocks the socks off creamed spinach. Butter is also key on eat under spinach and hollandaise, or defrosted on those pesky-to-poach, but good spinach and ricotta dumplings that Tuscans call gnudi .
Todays recipe though, is for nothing 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 patty, which firstly succeeded about for me because of spinach and rice leftovers. Or as an Italian would say the avanzi di spinaci e riso avanzi signify what remains, but likewise something advantageous, which is the way Italians appreciate leftovers. Of course 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 really do still regulation, helping cooking feel like a continuum, one recipe and meal rolling into the next rather than a series of segregated occasions.
Whether represented with advantageous leftovers, or cooked from scratch, this is surprisingly yummy and good project; savoury and pleasingly plump. It is all very straightforward rice and spinach mixed with its allies: butter, nutmeg, parmesan and eggs, pressed into a tin then baked. The tin helps create a crusted tush. It is good provided hot, warm or at room temperature. Spinach and orange are good comrades, so my Sicilian orange and fennel salad, which I roll out whenever possible, is my select of accompaniment here. Otherwise there is the extremely affable peperonata. Your suggestions are welcome. If you do prepare the spinach for this, maybe cook more than this is necessary and shape 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 quantities so when you do have leftovers you can do it by eye.
500g fresh spinach
250g Italian short cereal 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, disposing discoloured leaves and tough stalks, then clean in a couple of changes of cold water. Substance the soggy spinach into a large wash with no extra irrigate and concoct, clothed over a low-pitched heat until it droops. Tip-off it into a colander and then leave to depletion thoroughly.
2 Boil the rice in salted liquid for 10 minutes, then drain.
3 Peel and finely dice the onion. In a large fry or saute wash, fry the onion in the butter with a small pinch of salt until soft and golden. Use scissors to approximately chop the spinach and then add to the fry pan along with the rice.
4 Pull the wash from the flame, allow to cool a bit before adding the beaten eggs, parmesan, nutmeg, black pepper and a pinch of salt if necessary.
5 Butter and dust a cake tin or mould with fine breadcrumbs. Tip-off the mixture into the mould and then press flat with the back of a spoonful. Bake at 200 C/ 400 F/ gas mark 6 for 25 hours or until the patty is situate firm, a little crispy and golden. Let to sit for 5 minutes before returning out, or helping straight-from-the-shoulder from the tin in wedges. Also very good at room temperature.