Monday, October 29, 2012

Spinach with Melted Leeks and Cardamom

I can't figure out what it was about this recipe that made me want to cook it.  I have never been a huge fan of creamed spinach - if it is there I will certainly eat it, but I have never ordered (or made) creamed spinach in my life.  I do like sauteed spinach, either by itself or folded into pastas or omelets.  The Spinach Catalan Style is one of my favorite sauteed spinach recipes.  But spinach is everywhere right now (both in the farmers' market and the grocery store) and it seemed due time to try a new spinach recipe.  I know I mentioned that I was planning on making this dish along with a few others when we made the Warm Mushroom Salad with Shallots and Sherry Vinegar.  And I am determined to use the Andrea Reusing cookbook now with the remaining bounty at the farmers' market.  So this seemed like a match made in heaven.  The only problem was that Alex and I both found the dish to be a little muddy tasting.  When we tasted it in the pan it was tasty - perfumed nicely with the cardamom and with the creamy tang of the creme fraiche.  But by the time we plated the spinach and got it to the table (which took no more than a minute), the flavors got muddled and the spinach itself developed a somewhat slimy texture.  Perhaps we should have skipped that last minute of cooking everything together with the creme fraiche and leeks and pulled the spinach from the pan a minute earlier to prevent any overcooking.  Or perhaps we should just recognize the fact that we don't really like creamed spinach and call it a day. 

Recipe after the jump!

Spinach with Melted Leeks and Cardamom
Cooking in the Moment:  A Year of Seasonal Recipes
By Andrea Reusing

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium leek, cut into thin rounds, well washed, and drained
kosher salt
1 lb spinach, trimmed, washed and drained
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup creme fraiche
3/4 tsp ground cardamom, or more to taste

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large saute pan or skillet with a lid over low heat.  Add leeks and season with 1/4 tsp salt.  Cover tightly and gently sweat, stirring the leeks occasionally, until they are very soft, about 15 minutes.  If the leeks begin to color at all, lower the heat and add a tbsp of water.  Transfer to a plate and wipe out the pan. 

Raise the heat to medium-high and swirl the remaining 1 tbsp butter in the pan.  Add the spinach, starting with as much as will easily fit.  Season with 1/4 tsp salt and a letter fresh pepper.  Toss, adding remaining spinach as the first batch wilts down.  Add 1/4 tsp salt and more pepper, and as soon as all of the spinach is completely wilted, remove from the stove and pour off any accumulated liquid.

Reduce the heat to low and return the leeks to the pan.  Stir in creme fraiche and cardamom.  Adjust the seasonings and cook for 1 minute.

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