Sunday, May 4, 2008

Spinach and White Beans

Yesterday I went to the Naschmarkt in Vienna, a great outdoor market. I had only planned to have lunch, but the produce looked so good I had to buy something, so I settled on spinach, white beans and garlic. Tonight I cooked them, here are the photos and my recipe.

As with most of my recipes this one is conceptual, I get the basic ingredients and then improvise with what we have at home (although, generally we have a lot at home!).

First, I made garlic bread. In this case I used a round Turkish bread from the Naschmarkt. It's spongy but dense.

Whenever I make garlic bread I start with the pan I will be using later to cook the main dish. I do this to season the pan and because I don't want to waste any of the garlic! Fill the pan with a good amount of olive oil.

Grate about 6-8 or more, cloves of garlic into the olive oil. You can also use a press. Heat the olive oil-garlic mixture stirring a bit. Take it off the heat once you can smell it. Dip the bread into the mixture and place on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the oven on broil and watch carefully so it doesn't burn. Here's a photo of the garlic bread.

Next, I cooked the spinach and white beans mixture. I used dry white beans (soak them overnight, then cook them until they are done a couple hours before you begin the rest of the cooking (to make sure that they are finished in time). Here are the ingredients (but be flexible):

  • 10 - 12 cloves garlic (or more!)
  • 4 - 6 medium onions
  • 150 grams speck (strongly smoked bacon minced)
  • 1 pound spinach
  • 1/2 pound (dry weight) white beans (cooked)
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper

Here are the instructions:

  1. Finely mince about half the garlic, chop the onions and place into a large Dutch oven (that you used to make the garlic bread, see above) with a good amount of olive oil and the speck. Cook until onions are almost done.
  2. Add the white beans, stirring. Add more olive oil if needed and the rest of the garlic (chopped, but in relatively large pieces). Add some salt and pepper. Cook with top on pan, stirring every couple of minutes.
  3. Wash the spinach, cut it so it's more manageable.
  4. After the white bean - garlic mixture has cooked several minutes, add the spinach and replace the top. You will probably need to cook the spinach in batches, after the first batch has cooked a couple minutes, simply stir the mixture and throw in the second batch.
  5. After the spinach has cooked down, stir the mixture, you may want to add more garlic at this point, but do add salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture cook lightly for a couple more minutes with the top on, then take it off the heat. It's ready to serve.

I served it on top of the garlic bread, but it would also be fine alone or as a sauce for pasta. You could even eat it cold the next day.

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