serves: 6 servings
Vegetables prepared alla Genovese are among my favorite Ligurian dishes, made with the freshest produce and brilliantly flavored. I particularly love this sauté of spinach with anchovies, raisins, and pine nuts (and I've read that spinach prepared in this manner was one of Michelangelo's favorite dishes, too). Each of the components makes a distinct contribution: The anchovies lend complexity and saltiness. The raisins bring sweetness and counterbalance the anchovies. (I give you the amounts of each that I like, but find your own balance of flavors by increasing or decreasing either.) Finally, pine nuts add a mellow, pleasing textural contrast. You can apply this trio of tastes to other vegetables; escarole, broccoli, cauliflower, and Swiss chard will all be delicious in such a preparation. Spinaci alla Genovese is wonderful served family-style as a dinner vegetable, or as a colorful bed for grilled chicken breast or fish. Should you have any leftovers, layer the spinach between slices of crusty bread for an unusual but absolutely delicious sandwich.
½ cup golden raisins, (preferably plum and moist)
2½ pounds tender spinach, stems removed and washed well
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 plump garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (about 1 teaspoon)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
A heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet;
If the raisins are dry, soak them in a small bowl in hot water to cover until plump and softened, about 10 minutes. Wash and drain the spinach just before you cook it, so there's still a bit of water on the leaves.
Pour the olive oil into the pan, set it over medium-high heat, and toss in the crushed garlic cloves. Cook and stir the garlic until it begins to sizzle, then drop in the chopped anchovies and cook, stirring them in the oil for a minute or 2, until they melt.
Fill the pan with spinach, heaping it in by handfuls and letting it wilt down a bit before adding more. Once all the spinach is in the pan, scatter the raisins on top (and pour in any remaining soaking water, if you plumped them); sprinkle over them the salt and grated nutmeg. Toss the spinach leaves over and over with tongs, distributing the raisins and seasonings, then cover the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, until all the spinach has wilted and released its liquid.
Remove the cover, and cook over high heat, stirring, tossing the spinach, and evaporating the water. When the bottom of the pan is dry, toss in the pine nuts and cook for a few moments, remove the skillet from the heat, and serve the spinach right away.