I headed up to the garden this evening to gather some salad and was instead seduced by the spinach which has really taken off. I picked a bucketful of it. Bright green and perky. This threw the dinner plans in a different direction altogether. By the time I arrived back in the house I was thinking of the Spanish dish of ‘Espinacas con Pasos y Pinones’ -Spinach with Raisins and Pinenuts. This dish was heavily influenced by the Moors and gives a slightly sweet and exotic twist to what would otherwise be plain wholesome spinach. This alone did not add up to a dinner , even though Popeye would have been delighted , so I made a pot of Fassoulia, which is a Lebanese stew of beans, barley and vegetables to go with.
I have to admit to getting a little creative with the Fassoulia recipe as without pre planning I did not have any soaked cannelini or haricot beans at hand. I rummaged around on the tin shelf and came up with a can of chickpeas which I was going to use but then I came across a can of baked beans. The recipe called for cooked beans, canned tomatoes and tomato puree so I decided to go down the baked bean route and it worked out fine. The slight nuttiness of the barley and the soft beans was a great combination, I ‘d say it was better than a chickpea substitution. It sat together perfectly with the spinach.
Here’s the Spinach Recipe
Espinacas con Pasos y Pinones
about 750g spinach
2tbs pine nuts
2 tbs rains
1 small onion
Put the raisins in a bowl and cover with boiled water. leave aside for thirty minutes then drain
Put the pinenuts in a dry pan and gently toast until they are golden.
Wash the spinach and remove any thick stems.
Peel and finely chop the onion. Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion until it softens but don’t let it brown. Add the spinach, a little salt then stir to mix everything together. Cover with a lid and cook gently for a few minutes until the spinach has wilted and is tender.. Add the raisins and pine nuts, toss everything together and serve.