This weeks recipe can be made from scratch or, genuine to Roman resourcefulness with what remains, could introduce leftovers to study. Either practice, it celebrates the seasons reward of lively spinach and is perfect with a Sicilian orange and fennel salad
Big projectiles of spinach ever catch my see on the rare 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 meat that could be taking my tending. However, the luminous dark-green, cricket-ball sized globes of blanched spinach that sit on a lily-white tray at the front of the ready-prepared meat part 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 projectiles? Building 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 substance it into the purse writes Jane Grigson. I contemplate she would have approved of my farming fresh fruits and veg boy Filippo on Testaccio market. His spinach needs to be wrestled into the pouch, and then ricochets against my leg the whole way dwelling. She would also, I imagine, have approved of the bouncing 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 wintertime spinach hodgepodges, with their crumpled foliages, ribbed stems with pink tips-off, appearing robust, hitherto at the same day sugared and tender.
Introduced to Italy by the Arabs in the 11 th century, the spinach produce near Rome is excellent. Generally, it is simply dished, 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 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, including 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 dough under spinach and hollandaise, or melted on those pesky-to-poach, but superb 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 signify what remains, but too something advantageous, which is the way Italians assure 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 certainly do still regulate, facilitating cooking feel like a continuum, one bowl and meal rolling into the next rather than a series of isolated occasions.
Whether stirred with advantageous leftovers, or cooked from scratch, this is surprisingly delicious and good meaning; 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 crusty tush. It is good served hot, heated or at area temperature. Spinach and orange are good attendants, so my Sicilian orange and fennel salad, which I roll out wherever possible, is my select of accompaniment here. Otherwise there is the exceedingly gregarious peperonata. Your suggestions are welcome. If you do prepare the spinach for this, perhaps concoct more than this is necessary and influence 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 youre doing” 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, jettisoning discoloured buds and tough stalkings, then cleanse in a couple of changes of cold water. Stuff the soaking spinach into a large pan with no additional irrigate and cook, reported over a low hot until it droops. Tip-off it into a colander and then leave to duct thoroughly.
2 Boil the rice in salted ocean for 10 minutes, 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 approximately chop the spinach and then add to the fry pan along with the rice.
4 Pull the wash from the kindle, allow to cool a bit before adding 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 the motley into the mould and then press flat with the back of a spoonful. Bake at 200 C/ 400 F/ gas mark 6 for 25 instants or until the cake is change conglomerate, a little crisp and golden. Permit to sit for five minutes before returning out, or dishing straight-out from the tin in wedges. Too very good at chamber temperature.