Posted by: A Part of the Solution | September 17, 2011

Espinacas Catalan

I first had this superb spinach dish at Jaleo in DC on a corner in what is now designated Penn Quarter most of twenty years ago. What a revelation. Spinach sautéed in olive oil with pine nuts and raisins. So simple. So complete. Texturally balanced. Unfailing. Like nearly every tapas then served at the landmark restaurant.

Walking by our spinach bed just yesterday, I remembered those espinacas–and I wanted them. Dinner was hot dogs, carrot sticks and espinacas catalan. We’re not going to have any deficiency diseases strike us down on the garden-based diet. What a delight that everyone enjoys their spinach when it’s prepared this way.

Espinacas Catalan

2 large bunches of spinach (or two goodly bags of pre-washed, or two boxes of frozen)

2 1/2 TBSP olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

3 TBSP pine nuts

3 TBSP dried currants or raisins

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

If you’re using fresh spinach, wash it in your salad spinner or a strainer set in a larger bowl so that you can flood the leaves and add a capful of vinegar. The vinegar acts as a surfactant and loosens grit, dirt and sand from the spinach leaves efficiently. Swish the leaves around in the water. Drain the spinach and flood them again. If the water seems clear this time, you’re done. If not, give them another bath.

Pull the large stems from the leaves. Either steam or microwave the leaves in a little water until just wilted. Squeeze the spinach somewhat and form it into a long mound. Cut across the mound so that the spinach is in wide ribbons.

In a large, heavy bottomed sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and the spinach and toss them to coat them in the olive oil. Reduce the heat and add the raisins and the pine nuts. Cook the mixture, stirring and tossing often until the pine nuts are lightly browned on at least one side. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve this sophisticated, rustic dish immediately.

Espinacas Catalan multiplies nicely almost indefinitely (though after three multipliers you may reduce the oil somewhat).


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