I just adore spinach. If you had told me this would be so when I was a little girl, but I would never have believed you, but its true. I do love spinach. I think my hatred of it as a child largely had something to do with the fact that my mother tried to feed us tinned spinach, which was YUCK YUCK YUCK. There is just no comparison to the fresh spinach we have available for our use today and the tinned spinach from way back when . . . fresh is definilately better on ALL levels!
I love it in salads . . . crisp green baby spinach leaves . . . with its earthy mineral-like flavour. It is especially good with roasted chicken, toasted nuts, dried cranberries or fresh blueberries, some goats cheese and a fruity balsamic dressing.
I love it sauteed lightly with garlic, butter and salt and pepper. It does not take long to cook at all, and garlic goes very well with it.
It's great in omelets and frittatas, risottos, etc, but my favourite way to use it has to be this simple and easy Spinach and Guyere Tart. Its a recipe I got from my friend Audrey many moons ago. I fell in love with it and I can't tell you how many times I have baked this through the years.
It's quick and easy to make and so impressive when done. One thing which I really love about it is the free form crust . . . you just roll out a 12 inch circle and pile the filling onto that, folding the edges up around the outsides to encase the filling. So simple.
Another thing I love is the richness of the Gruyere cheese, which goes very well with that earthy flavour of the spinach . . . then there is the base of basil pesto which gets secreted beneath the filling before you pop that onto the crust. It's just enough to give you some flavour without overpowering the dish . . .
I also love that nutty crunch of the toasted pinenuts you sprinkle over the top of the tart before baking. Oh, I do love pinenuts . . . they are so moreish.
Actually, I think altogether you could say that I just really, really love this tart full stop!!!
*Spinach and Gruyere Tart*Serves 4
A delicious supper dish that can get even the most ardent of spinach haters to eat spinach! It's a free form tart and very pretty.
1 TBS olive oil
1 medium red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 pound of baby spinach leaves, washed
300g shortcrust pastry, thawed if frozen (enough pastry to make a 12 inch round)
2 TBS fresh pesto sauce
120g gruyere cheese, grated (1 cup)
1 large free range egg, beaten
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 TBS toasted pinenuts
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.
Heat the oil in a small pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring for about 4 minutes, until softened. Add the spinach and cook just to wilt. Drain all in a colander and press out as much water as you can. Set aside.
Roll your pastry out to a 12 inch circle. Place onto a flat baking sheet. Spread the centre, leaving about 2 inches all the way around free, with pesto sauce. Reserve 1 TBS of the cheese and place the remainder into a bowl. Add the drained spinach, onion, beaten egg, salt and pepper. Mix together well. Place this mixture in the centre of the pastry circle on top of the pesto. Fold up the edges of the pastry over the spinach, pleating it decoratively. You will only want to fold it up about 2 inches all the way around, leaving the centre open. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and pine nuts.
Bake in the heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Cut into 4 wedges to serve.
All you need to serve with this is a salad on the side. Bon Appetit!