Any time you see raisins and pine nuts in a Spanish recipe, you can be sure its origins are Moorish. This dish, called Espinacas con Pasas y Piñones in Spanish, is equally at home in Catalonia or Andalusia. Malaga is the home of Spain’s most spectacular raisins, so it comes as no surprise that acelgas a la malaguena, Swiss chard prepared the same way, is popular there (though, in true Moorish tradition, without the ham).
Although some recipes suggest boiling the spinach, this is unnecessary. Just wilt it in a hot skillet, a little water from rinsing clinging to the leaves. Do, however, be sure to remove any tough stems, as they look stringy and unattractive after cooking. And if the leaves are especially large, tear or cut them into smaller pieces for faster cooking and easier eating. A little chopped onion or minced serrano ham is occasionally added to the dish.–Joyce Goldstein
LC Booze It Up Note
Author Joyce Goldstein suggests pouring a bottle of Verdejo or Albariño as you serve this lovely little side dish. Or, for non Spanish sippers, try a Viognier or an off-dry Riesling. We also sometimes plump our raisins in fortified wine rather than water. Madeira that’s been brought to a bare simmer works quite well, as does a tawny port, although we suppose you could try a little white wine as well…
Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts Recipe
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes | Serves 4 to 6
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 teaspoons for the nuts (optional)
- 1 small onion, chopped (optional), or 3 ounces serrano ham, minced (optional)
- 2 pounds spinach, tough stems removed and rinsed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1. Combine the raisins and enough hot water to cover in a bowl. Set aside to plump for 30 minutes.
- 2. In a small, dry skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until fragrant and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool. (Alternatively, toast in a 350°F (175°C) oven for about 8 minutes.) Or, if you prefer the flavor of sauteed pine nuts, heat 1 to 2 teaspoons oil in the frying pan over medium heat, add the nuts, saute until golden and fragrant, and transfer to the plate with a slotted spoon to cool.
- 3. In a large saute pan or skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion or ham, if using, and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened and translucent or the ham is lightly colored, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the spinach, a little of the water from rinsing clinging to its leaves, and cook, turning and stirring constantly with tongs, until wilted and shimmering with oil, 3 to 5 minutes.
- 4. Drain the raisins and add to the pan along with the pine nuts. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm.
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Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts Recipe © 2009 Joyce Goldstein. Photo © 2009 Leigh Beisch. All rights reserved.