Spinach with raisins and pine nuts, when simply yet perfectly sauteed as here, is a classic for a reason. Serve as tapas, side dish, or topper for pasta.
In this spinach with raisins and pine nuts recipe, which can be traced back to both Italian and Catalan roots, there’s a super pleasing juxtaposition of vegetal and sweet. Notes author Rachel Roddy, who jotted this recipe down while living in Italy, “It is not at all Roman to mix butter with oil, but I am not Roman and I love a little butter with my spinach: it soothes its metallic edges, especially if the richness is tempered by some lively extra-virgin olive oil. You can, of course, use all butter or all olive oil.” What she said.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts
- 1/4 cup raisins or golden raisins
- 1 pound regular or baby spinach
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 oz) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- Soak the raisins in a bowl with enough warm water to cover for 10 minutes.
- Rinse the spinach in a couple changes of cold water. Discard any wilted or bruised leaves and trim away any thick, woody stalks.
- Place the spinach in a large pan with nothing but the water that clings to the leaves, cover the pan, and cook over low heat until the spinach has collapsed and is tender. This should take 5 to 10 minutes.
- Transfer the spinach to a colander and drain. Once it's cool enough, squeeze it with your hands to eliminate any excess liquid.
- Meanwhile, peel and gently crush the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife.
- In a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-low heat, gently cook the garlic until fragrant and lightly golden and then remove it. Add the butter to the pan, let it foam slightly, then add the pine nuts and turn them in the oil before adding the spinach and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2 minutes, or just until the spinach leaves glisten.
- Drain the raisins and add them to the pan, gently turn the ingredients a couple more times, and serve immediately.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I was pleasantly surprised by the savory and sweet flavors of this dish. The sautéed pine nuts added a buttery flavor that was complemented by the sweetness of the raisins. It was very easy to pull together and would make a great side either warm or at room temperature.
I used baby spinach in place of the leaf spinach without any issues. I used a very large saucepan to hold it all, and the spinach took about 10 minutes over low heat.
I agree with everything the author says about the great flavors of this dish. It’s an excellent way to prepare spinach, and the use of raisins and pine nuts really elevates the dish.
I used baby spinach, which took 10 minutes to wilt in a large sauté pan. It’s important to turn the leaves with tongs every few minutes so that they cook evenly.
This was pretty great, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t exactly love cooked spinach. The combination of plump, sweet raisins and pine nuts really balances the slight astringency of the spinach, and as the author mentions, the butter really makes it all taste wonderful. The instructions were straightforward and accurate.
This was the perfect side dish for a pan-seared trout we had for dinner. The spinach, cooked in a pan with just the water that comes from rinsing it, became tender in only a few minutes (don’t cook it too much or it will “disappear”). The sweetness of the raisins combined with the pine nuts and the spinach was absolutely delicious! I imagine this would also be a perfect side dish for chicken or beef, and it only takes a few minutes to prepare.
This is a delicious, simple recipe that can saddle up alongside almost any main dish you serve on rotation.
Pine nuts are a splurge for me, so I always buy about 1 cup worth from the bulk section of my market and package them well for deep freezing. You can then measure out the nuts frozen. They defrost quickly, and I’ve never had an issue with them picking up flavors from the freezer or going rancid. The most time-consuming aspect of this affair is…ugh, washing the sandy, silty spinach. Friends, I will not fault you if you go with the pre-washed packaged kind.
Once washed, the spinach took about 7 minutes to wilt and collapse; however, take note, the leaves always remained a pretty spring green and never turned drab. That’s how you know you did it right. The rest of the cooking went off quickly and easily. At our table, I came to the conclusion that gently cooked whole cloves of garlic are amazing, especially as a single bite with a bit of spinach and a bit of raisin and pine nut. Splendid.
Originally published December 10, 2020