This weeks recipe can be made from scratch or, true to Roman resourcefulness with what remains, could throw leftovers to toil. Either lane, it celebrates the seasons reward of lively spinach and is perfect with a Sicilian orange and fennel salad
Big dances of spinach ever catch my gaze on the uncommon reasons 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. However, the luminous light-green, cricket-ball sized globes of blanched spinach that sit on a lily-white tray at the front of the ready-prepared nutrient segment 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? Obligating 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 the market, so there is serious profit in these balls.
Good spinach should be lively, it is appropriate to crunch and squeak as you stuff it into the purse writes Jane Grigson. I envisage she would have approved of my farming fresh fruits and veg soldier Filippo on Testaccio market. His spinach should still be battled into the bag, and then ricochets against my leg the whole way dwelling. She would also, I repute, have approved of the go 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 ingredients in my two countries. I like hardy winter spinach motleys, with their crumpled foliages, ribbed stems with pink tips, gazing robust, hitherto at the same epoch dessert and tender.
Introduced to Italy by the Arabs in the 11 th century, the spinach swell near Rome is excellent. Generally, it is simply provided, 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 yearn seeds. All that said, butter is what I implore with spinach a lot, thinking of a Jane Grigson recipe in which spinach is shrivelled, then reheated several times, lending more butter each time, until it is the richest stuff, a spoonful of which knocks the socks off creamed spinach. Butter is also key on food 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 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 came 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 insure leftovers. Of route 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 certainly continuing to be regulate, helping cooking feel like a continuum, one food and meal rolling into the next rather than a series of isolated occasions.
Whether realise with advantageous leftovers, or cooked from scratch, this is surprisingly yummy and good plan; 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 roasted. The tin helps create a crusty foot. It is good provided red-hot, heated or at room temperature. Spinach and orange are good companions, so my Sicilian orange and fennel salad, which I roll out wherever possible, is my choice of accompaniment here. Otherwise there is the exceedingly affable peperonata. Your suggestions are welcome. If you do prepare the spinach for this, maybe cook more than you need 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 sums 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 tiny onion
20g butter, plus more for the dish
3 eggs, beaten
A handful of fine breadcrumbs
1 Pick over the spinach, discarding discoloured foliages and tough stubbles, then bathe in a couple of changes of cold water. Substance the wet spinach into a large pan with no additional ocean and cook, embraced over a low-toned heat until it withers. Tip-off it into a colander and then leave to exhaustion thoroughly.
2 Boil the rice in salted liquid 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 approximately chop the spinach and then add to the frying pan along with the rice.
4 Pull the pan from the kindle, allow to cool a little before adding the thump 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 the potpourrus into the mould and then press flat with the back of a spoon. Bake at 200 C/ 400 F/ gas mark 6 for 25 minutes or until the patty is create conglomerate, a little crispy and golden. Give to sit for five minutes before returning out, or acting straight-out from the tin in wedges. Likewise very good at area temperature.