Thursday, 29 March 2012

Spanac ardelenesc

"Ardeal-style spinach"

With the start of spring the fruit and vegetable markets are starting to sell the early crops of leaves. Amongst the red orach (loboda) and nettles (urzici) you’ll find huge bunches of Romanian spinach or spanac romanesc. You can, of course, buy sanatized bags of spinach from the supermarket, or worse still, frozen tablets of spinach in the frozen food section, but surely you can’t beat the real deal, even if you end up spending a bit of time trimming, washing, and boiling it ready for use. For this dish I bought one bunch (and by a bunch I don’t mean a typical bunch – in the local veg market a bunch of spinach means about 3kg) and then spent the best part of half an hour ripping off the good leaves, rinsing them well, and plunging them in batches into boiling water. I must say I actually forgot to weight the resulting leaves (pre-boiling) but I’m guessing it came to about 1kg, which is the amount you should probably buy if you are getting the ready-trimmed stuff in bag from the local supermarket (probably about three bags will do the trick).

Time: 20 minutes (plus an extra 30 minutes for trimming and washing the leaves if using fresh ones)
Serving: About 4 as a side dish

3kg of fresh spinach (or 1kg of trimmed spinach leaves)
1 tablespoon of flour
A cup of milk
1-2 cloves of garlic to taste

1. Trim and wash the spinach and plunge the leaves into boiled water for about 5 minutes until they have shrunk.
2. Drain the spinach leaves in a colander for about 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, gently heat some oil in a pan, just about enough to cover the base of the pan.
4. Mix the tablespoon of flour into the oil until you get a well-mixed paste and heat this, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.
5. Empty the spinach into the pan and mix well, still over the low heat. Allow to cook for a minute or two.
6. Gradually add the milk, bit by bit, stirring in between addition, whilst maintaining the low heat under it. The milk should be absorbed – when it starts to look wet, stop adding the milk.
7. Crush the garlic cloves and mix them into the spinach, along with some salt (to taste).
8. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently, and then either serve hot or keep as a cold salad or spread.

This dish would go well with some salmon or other fish. Classically, Romanians will have it with fried eggs and/or chips or other potatoes as a lunchtime dish. Although not particularly Romanian, some blue cheese is a fantastic addition and makes it into a gorgeously thick and creamy spread for sandwiches or toast.

1 comment:

Romfoody said...

Although it's not strictly Romanian (as far as I know) this was lovely warmed up with some cubes of buffalo telemea cheese (from Rupea, near Brasov) and a fried egg - runny yolk, of course.