This weeks recipe can be made from scratch or, true to Roman resourcefulness with what remains, could give leftovers to operate. Either method, 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 eye on the uncommon occasions 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 attention. However, the shining green, cricket-ball sized globes of blanched spinach that sit on a white tray at the figurehead of the ready-prepared food section are the things I find myself looking at time and again. My train of thought is always the same. They are 14 euros each! Who buys these pellets? Realise 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 squeak as you stuff it into the crate writes Jane Grigson. I envision she would have approved of my farming fruit and veg mortal Filippo on Testaccio market. His spinach should still be fought into the container, and then bounces against my leg all the way dwelling. She would also, I visualize, 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 ingredients in my two countries. I like hardy wintertime spinach selections, with their crumpled leaves, ribbed stems with pink gratuities, seeming robust, hitherto at the same experience sugared and tender.
Introduced to Italy by the Arabs in the 11 th century, the spinach grow near Rome is excellent. Generally, it is simply dished, 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 yearn nuts. All that said, 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 trash, a spoonful of which knocks the socks off creamed spinach. Butter is also key on eat under spinach and hollandaise, or melted on those pesky-to-poach, but superb 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 patty, which first came about for me because of spinach and rice leftovers. Or as an Italian would say the avanzi di spinaci e riso avanzi mean what remains, but too something advantageous, which is the style Italians view leftovers. Of track Italy isnt alone or special in having resourceful recipes for using leftovers: its a feature in conventional home cooking in all countries. But Italy is where I know, and where recipes for leftovers truly continuing to be principle, helping cooking feel like a continuum, one dish and meal rolling into the next rather than a series of isolated occasions.
Whether reached with advantageous leftovers, or cooked from scratch, this is surprisingly luscious and good meaning; savoury and pleasingly plump. It is all very straightforward rice and spinach motley with its allies: butter, nutmeg, parmesan and eggs, pressed into a tin then broiled. The tin helps create a crusty foot. It is good dished hot, heated or at room temperature. Spinach and orange are good companions, so my Sicilian orange and fennel salad, which I roll out whenever possible, is my select of accompaniment here. Otherwise there is the extremely approachable 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 lengths so “when youre doing” 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, abandoning discoloured buds and tough stalks, then bathe in a couple of changes of cold water. Stuff the soggy spinach into a large wash with no additional ocean and cook, dealt over a low hot until it droops. Tip-off it into a colander and then leave to depletion thoroughly.
2 Boil the rice in salted irrigate for 10 instants, then drain.
3 Peel and finely dice the onion. In a large fry or saute pan, 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 frying pan along with the rice.
4 Pull the wash from the flame, allow to cool a bit before lending the clobber 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 the potpourrus 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 cake is organize house, a bit crisp and golden. Let to sit for five minutes before turning out, or helping straight-shooting from the tin in wedges. Also very good at room temperature.