Thursday, 20 February 2014

Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Another popular Spanish side dish...

And a great quick dish to rustle up from the freezer and storecupboard, if you haven't got fresh spinach to had, lovely with fish dishes (such as my cod with romesco sauce, or sea bass with cider and tomato sauce), or as a selection of mixed or vegetarian tapa. I've included a microwave cheat for when you need to throw something together last minute to impress - slug in extra oil for authenticity if you're feeling extravagant, and double up the ingredients if you want a good portion for yourself - don't be shy now!

Espinacas con Pasas y Piñones
(Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts)

Serves two as a side dish or tapa, easily doubled. 87 calories per serving if made with frozen spinach, 100 calories per serving if made with fresh spinach.

Originating in Catalonia, this dish is also known as Espinacas a la Catalana throughout the rest of Spain. Using frozen spinach is fine, even if it’s chopped – and if you have a microwave, I’ve included a quick microwave method below that will take about 3 ½ minutes to cook. This is a great dish to serve as part of a vegetarian tapas selection, or alongside tomato based chicken or fish dishes and is very easy to make. The pine nuts give it an interesting texture, and the raisins add little hits of sweetness.

Lovely served with my cod with romesco sauce recipe, or sea bass with cider sauce, amongst other things.

285g fresh spinach (preferably baby leaf) or 200g frozen spinach* (whole leaf or chopped is fine) [71/44]
1 tbsp raisins (10g) [28]
½ tbsp pine nuts (5g) [35]
½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or more to taste if you're not counting calories) [65]
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste [1]


Soak the raisins in hot water for 20 minutes, then drain. Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes until they turn golden – keep them moving to avoid burning them, and put into a little dish as soon as they’re done, so they don’t scorch in the hot pan.

If using fresh spinach, rinse thoroughly in a colander, leaving some of the water clinging to the leaves. Put into a large, non-stick (if possible) pan, turn the heat on medium to high for a couple of minutes and stir/turn occasionally until the spinach has wilted. Drain the spinach well (you could chop it a little at this point, if you prefer), return to the pan, and add the drained raisins, olive oil and seasoning. Stir well, and taste for seasoning, then serve sprinkled with the toasted pine nuts (you could stir them through if you prefer). Serve immediately.

If you want a more luxurious dish, add extra olive oil – it will take up to another tablespoon and a half, or to taste.

*If using frozen spinach, then you can either defrost before cooking as above (with slightly reduced cooking time), or if you have a microwave, you can do it the quick way using the following method (you will still need to soak the raisins beforehand, and toast the pine nuts).

Microwave method

Soak the raisins, and toast the pine nuts as above. Put the frozen spinach in an appropriately sized microwaveable dish, cover with clingfilm (plastic wrap) and pierce.

Microwave for 2 minutes (900w microwave), drain, add the drained raisins, stir, then microwave for a further minute and a half. Drain again, if necessary, stir in the olive oil and seasoning, check the seasoning, then serve scattered with the pine nuts.

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