Recipes for Shabbat
Spinach is a wonderfully adaptable vegetable. It will be abundant until right around the High Holidays. You can cream it, sauté it, stuff it in everything from a knish to a chicken breasts, or serve it raw in salads and in each dish it will take on a totally different characteristics and tastes.
Choosing the best spinach is relatively easy. A younger plant yields tender, sweet leaves. You need to check the stem to gauge tenderness and age. A thin, flexible stem indicates a tender, young plant. Choose these spinach leaves for salads or recipes where the spinach is served raw. Thick, fibrous stems mean a more mature, tougher plant, which are best suited for cooking. Shop for crisp, bright green leaves with no dark, bruised patches or yellowing. I like to buy loose leaves or bunches so I can judge their quality. It's best to store fresh spinach in a dry plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper, where it will keep for two to three days. Spinach stems, even of some young leaves, are usually fibrous, stringy, and difficult to eat, especially after cooking. It's best to remove the stems before washing; discard them or save them to add to a vegetable stock.
To remove the stem from a spinach leaf, fold the leaf in half along the spine, grasp the bottom of the stem and tear toward the tip of the leaf. Notoriously sandy, spinach must be washed carefully.
You'll quickly notice that
when you cook spinach
it collapses, or wilts, to a fraction of its original volume. That's
because spinach leaves, like lettuce and other greens, are mostly
water. One pound of unwashed fresh spinach will
yield 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cooked spinach, or about
two servings. A pound needs about 5 minutes to steam,
and 2-3 pounds of spinach reduces to 2 cups after cooking. After
steaming or boiling spinach, wring out excess
water. Grab a fistful at a time and squeeze.
When a recipe calls for cooked spinach, the simplest technique is
to steam it immediately after washing. The water droplets clinging
to the leaves and the natural moisture in the spinach provide all the
liquid you need. You should drain the cooked
spinach in a colander but don't refresh it in
cold water. Squeeze out excess liquid. You can also put the spinach in a
dishtowel and twist to wring out extra moisture. The spinach can
then be chopped and used in a recipe. These recipes are especially great
this time of year where the spinach is fresh but
will work just as well with frozen spinach in
the dead of winter when summer is just a memory.
Cook lasagna in boiling salted water in a large pot
until al dente and then drain. Meanwhile, heat one half tablespoon of
olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, celery,
and carrots, stir and cook until onions have
softened. Add mushrooms and garlic and continue to cook
until the mushrooms have released their liquid, 2 or 3 minutes. Add
wine and cook until most of the liquid has
evaporated. Stir in chopped tomatoes (include
liquid), sun-dried tomatoes, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, then
reduce heat to low and simmer until thick. Season with salt and
pepper. To make the white sauce, heat remaining
oil in a heavy pan over low heat. Add flour;
whisk constantly until the flour begins to turn a light brown. Remove
pan from heat and whisk in cream. Season with nutmeg and a pinch of
salt. Remove from heat and set aside. To
assemble, spread 1/2 cup of the mushroom sauce
in the bottom of a casserole dish, add one layer of
noodles, then another 1/2 cup of mushroom sauce. Arrange a single
layer of the fresh spinach leaves over the sauce
and drizzle them with 1/3 cup of the white
sauce. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the grated Parmesan cheese over
the spinach and top with another layer of the noodles. Repeat 5
times. Preheated to 375 and bake for 40 minutes.
Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Serves 8
Cook the linguine until it's al dente, rinse and set
aside. In pan, heat the olive oil (I use butter for dairy meals) and saute
the garlic (the more the better). Add crushed hazelnuts or pine nuts,
fresh spinach, herbs and sun dried tomato flakes. Stir till spinach is
wilted. Add the pasta and toss all together. Add diced tomato at the end
to prevent them from turning soggy.
In a large mixing bowl beat together cream cheese
and the 2/3 cup butter. Add the 1 cup
all-purpose flour and the self-rising flour; beat well. Divide dough into
two balls; wrap and chill 30 to 60 minutes or until dough is easy to
handle. For filling, cook spinach according to package directions; drain
well, squeezing out excess liquid. Set aside. In a large skillet melt the
2 tablespoons butter. Add mushrooms and onion. Cook and stir over medium
heat about 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add spinach, the 1
tablespoon flour, the salt, oregano, lemon
juice, and garlic powder. Cook and stir until mixture thickens. Stir in
Parmesan cheese; set aside to cool. On a floured surface, roll one pastry
ball to a 12x7-inch rectangle. Spread dough with half
the spinach mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edges.
Starting from a short side, roll up dough and
filling. Moisten edges with water; pinch to
seal. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Repeat with remaining pastry and spinach
Transfer to wire racks; let cool. Makes 28
pinwheels. Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare and slice
pinwheels; place in freezer-safe containers, placing a
double thickness of waxed paper between layers. Seal, label, and
freeze up to 3 months. To serve, bake as directed.
Place apricots in a small bowl and cover with sherry or wine. Cover and let stand 30 minutes or until plump. Drain, reserving liquid. Meanwhile, heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and red onion. Cook and stir for 1 minute or just until softened. Add reserved fruit soaking liquid and spinach; cook, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute or just until spinach has begun to wilt. Remove from heat and add vinegar, honey, pepper, and salt. Place in a serving dish and sprinkle with apricots, cherries, olives, and nuts. Makes 6 side-dish servings. Make-Ahead Tip: Toast nuts and clean and tear spinach up to 8 hours in advance; cover and chill.
© Eileen Goltz 2002