Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Catalan Spinach with Raisins, Pinenuts & Bacon (Espinacas a la Catalana)


Ever since I was a child, I have loved spinach, whether it's cooked or raw. Maybe from watching all the Popeye reruns. One of my favorites dishes that I would eat as a meal was Stouffer's spinach souffle, especially in my teenage years. My exposure to spinach dishes have been very conventional: spinach salad, sauteed spinach, spinach "souffle." That changed when I was working in Cataluña / Barcelona last winter. Espinacas a la Catalana was on every menu; and served at my work's cafeteria at least once a week. I instantly fell in love and have yet to grow tired of it. What is it? It's a sauteed spinach with rendered bacon, toasted pine nuts, plumped raisins, with toasted garlic. I never knew spinach could be so warm and soulful. Soul satisfying. Especially while the weather is chilly. Amazingly, this Catalan spinach is a perfect side with just about any protein: roasted salmon or chicken, pan-seared hanger steak, pork. You must try this! So easy and fast to make. The quality of the ingredients show through with such a simple dish, so pick the best!

Ingredients:
  • 2 strips of thick cut smoked bacon, cut into small pieces (or 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 pound fresh washed baby spinach (or frozen: thaw & ring out water)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed with side of knife, skin removed
  • ½ cup pine nuts (Spanish, NOT Chinese)
  • ½ cup raisins
  • pinch of salt (to taste)
  • pinch of hot pepper flakes (to taste, optional)
Directions:
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the cut up bacon and occasionally stir. Once the bacon starts browning, add the garlic, smashed without skin, and sauté until turns golden brown. Remove garlic and reserve. At this point, add in the pine nuts and the raisins. Frequently stir. The raisins will magically inflate and the pine nuts will turn golden brown. Add in the spinach in small batches, stirring, allowing any excess liquid to cook off. Repeat. Add salt and pepper flakes to taste. (Spaniards do not use black or white pepper in traditional dishes like this. They say it changes the flavor too much.) If you really like garlic, add the garlic in at this point. Cook with stirring until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Serves about 4 people.

This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we are focusing on is mighty spinach! Here are other delicious features on spinach:


-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

2 comments:

Elise Johnson said...

This looks amazing! what experience working in Cataluna must have been! Can hardly wait to make thsi beautiful dish! Thanks for sharing.

Heather Jacobsen said...

this looks delicious! i love cooking my spinach with apples, raisins & garlic (a dish I copied from a tapas restaurant!), but i love the addition of bacon, pine nuts and a sprinkling of hot pepper flakes. I can't wait to make this soon!