Cooking With Spinach

Spinach has a bad reputation – but it’s full of goodness, and forms the basis of some truly delicious recipes. Cooked, drained and chopped, it can be added to almost anything, from curries to stews and pasties. Here are our favourite recipes for spinach.

Recipe: Spinach Puffs

Spinach is not the first ingredient you’d think of making into a classy canapé. But in Lebanese cookery, spinach is used in a number of mezze recipes, from miniature pizza flatbreads to these little puffs. This is our adaptation of a Claudia Roden recipe, and it’s perfect party food. Why not make some extra to put in the freezer for unexpected guests?

  • 300g spinach, washed, large stems removed
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1clove garlic, crushed
  • 2tbsp pine nuts
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 200g puff pastry
  • 3‐4 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 1 egg

First cook the spinach. Pack the washed leaves into a large saucepan and put on the lid, then put over a gentle heat. Check after a minute and turn the leaves over so they wilt evenly. After 3‐5 minutes the spinach will be thoroughly wilted. Tip it into a sieve over the sink and press with a spoon to extract as much liquid as you can. Put the spinach on a board and chop finely.

In the same saucepan, heat the olive oil and soften the onion and garlic gently, until translucent. Add the pine nuts and stir until they are toasted. Take the pan off the heat, and stir in the spinach, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

On a floured board, roll out the puff pastry and cut out 10cm circles. Put a teaspoon of filling onto each one and fold over. Prepare all of the puffs in this way.

At this point, you can freeze the puffs (providing your pastry was not pre‐frozen) or bake them. If baking, beat the egg and put it into one shallow dish, and put the grated parmesan into another shallow dish. Dip each (thawed) puff first into egg and then into parmesan, and put onto a baking tray. Bake at 200 degrees C for 15‐20 minutes, until golden. Serve warm (not hot).

Recipe: Spinach and Potatoes with Panch Phoran

You’ll find spinach features in lots of Indian recipes. Panch Phoran is a mixture of seeds: nigella, mustard, cumin, fenugreek and fennel. You can buy it ready‐mixed (try a specialist spice shop) or make your own from storecupboard spices. This Bengali spice mixture is used in vegetable side dishes like this spinach and potato accompaniment, which works well with a rich and saucy lamb dopiaza.

  • 250g spinach, washed, large stems removed
  • 3‐4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm pieces
  • 1/2 turmeric
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp oil and 1tsp butter
  • 1 heaped tsp Panch Phoran
  • 150ml coconut milk
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • Fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish

First wilt the spinach, as detailed in the recipe above. Drain it into a sieve and press out all remaining liquid. Put the diced potato into the cleaned‐out saucepan with the turmeric, salt, and enough water to just cover. Simmer for 6‐7 minutes, or until the potato pieces are just tender. Drain off the water. Add the oil and butter to the pan with the potatoes, and heat gently until sizzling. Add the Panch Phoran and continue to fry the potato pieces until browned.

Add the coconut milk and pinch of sugar to the potatoes and simmer gently until the milk has reduced greatly. Stir in the spinach and the lemon juice. Warm through and taste for seasoning – you may wish to add more lemon juice, salt or pepper. Serve sprinkled with chopped coriander.

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