Saturday, October 1, 2011

Vegetarian Day

Well, today is World Vegetarian Day

and a good start to World Vegetarian Awareness Month, October, y'all.

Many people have complained to me that many of my recipes aren't entirely vegetarian or even vegetarian friendly.

I disagree.


Despite the fact that I think that vegetarians out there are simply missing out, here's a dish that goes both ways, get your mind out of the gutter, pervert!

Sautéed Spinach 

As boring as it sounds, this frighteningly simple dish requires attention and finesse. It’s really all about technique. Do not be fooled, the flavour and texture of this are sublime. 

A Large Heavy Bottomed Sauté Pan
Heavy Tongs
A Wooden Spoon
A Coffee Mug 
A Table Spoon
A Large Serving Bowl
A Large Dinner Plate

  • Three (3) bags of Fresh Baby Spinach 
These days, fresh spinach is readily available, pre-washed, in bags, at the supermarket. This is a huge time saver and the quality is great. There is no need to rinse it, simply tear open the bag and use. 

However, if you are fortunate enough to have a greenmarket nearby, please hunt up the locally grown spinach and pick up about five (5) lbs. (2.2 kg.) of the stuff. Yes, I know, it seems like a lot, but it will cook down dramatically. The local stuff will be very sandy and will need to be thoroughly cleaned. So, fill the kitchen sink with cold water and soak the locally grown spinach for about ten (10) minutes and let the sand fall to the bottom of the sink. Pull the spinach out and drain the sink. Clean and refill the sink with fresh cold water and soak the spinach again. It may take a few soakings to remove all of the grit. Simply taste one of the leaves to check for sand. Honestly, it wont hurt you. Most organic locally grown spinach comes with the roots attached, which gives it added flavour and shelf life. After all of the bunches of spinach are fully cleaned, simply chop off the roots and the tough stems with a kitchen knife and you’re ready to go. 

Now, Frozen Spinach is a great option as well. Simply thaw and break up the block of Frozen Spinach into pieces and turn it out into a bowl in preparation for the sauté. See the VARIATIONS section below for specific instructions. Don’t want to overcook ‘em now, do we? 
  • Four (4) Cloves of Garlic 
Or more if you like; who doesn't like garlic???
  • Olive Oyl
Xtra Virgin, like your sister. 
  • Kosher Salt 
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper 
  • Some Veal Broth (OPTIONAL)
Before you vegetarians get your knickers in a twist, this is VERY OPTIONAL. I just like Veal Stock; since this is my recipe, I can do what I want!
  • Some Music to Sauté By 

Turn on the Music and take a deep breath. Slowly let it out, this will be fun. 

Mince the four (4) cloves of Garlic and place them into the Coffee Mug. Add one quarter (1/4) cup of Olive Oyl, or just enough to cover the Garlic. 

Now, all of the next steps occur very quickly, so make sure that all of the children are safely locked up underneath the stairs so there are no interruptions, muzzles work too. 

Heat the Large Skillet over medium high heat until sizzling, about three (3) minutes. 

Add one (1) tablespoon of the Garlic and Olive Oyl mixture and sauté for ten (10) seconds before adding a ginormous handful of the bagged or clean Spinach. 

Quickly add a pinch of Kosher Salt and a grind of Black Pepper. 

Now, this is OPTIONAL. I like throwing a tablespoon of Veal Stock into the pan at this time for an added depth of flavour. Your vegan friends will wonder why the spinach tastes so good if you do this step. Don’t tell them what you used, trade secret. Honestly, it’s not necessary, though 

Otherwise, add about one (1) tablespoon of water. 

Using the Heavy Tongs, rotate the spinach in the pan constantly until it just collapses and wilts, about a minute to a minute and a half. 

Turn out into a serving bowl using the Wooden Spoon. 

Repeat all of the steps (Garlic and Oyl mixture, Spinach, Salt, Pepper, splash of Broth or Water), handful by handful, with the remaining Spinach until through. 

Cover the bowl with a dinner plate and set aside on the counter, cling film begone. The Spinach will continue to steam in the covered bowl and create it’s own yummy sauce. 

Let the Spinach cool to room temperature. You can either eat it later in the day or place it in the fridge for tomorrow. 

Now, you can release the children from lockup and have them wash the pan and the stove top. Hey, child labour is useful after all. 

The Spinach will keep in the fridge for about a week and can be paired and used with a bazillion things beyond a simple side dish. Cous Cous, Pastina, Orzo, 'Taters, Turnips, Parsnips, Carrots, Omeletes, Beets, Meats, Chix, Fish, should I keep going??

Personally, one of my favorite ways to serve this is as an appetizer, spread on top of toasted Tuscan bread with some Buffalo Mozzarella or some shaved Pecorino or Manchego, but I leave that up to you.

If you cannot find any fresh Spinach and are using Frozen Spinach for all of this, start your sautee pan on medium-low heat. Begin with the Garlic and Olive Oyl mixture and it let just warm through enough to infuse the Oyl with garlicky happiness, about a minute and a half to two (2) minutes. The garlic should barely become translucent and only slightly sizzle in the pan. Add the thawed frozen spinach that has been broken apart and turn to coat with the garlic infused Oyl using the Heavy Tongs. Sauté for about two (2) to three (3) minutes until just warmed through. Add a grind of black pepper and serve immediately.

Enough of this vegetarian-ism, forget the Olive Oyl, use Bacon Fat. Sorry vegitarians, I know it's your day, but c'mon, don't you like the smell of sautéing bacon?? Now, I like Apple Wood Slab Bacon, but your personal favorite kind is what to use. 

Sauté four (4) or five (5) slices of bacon on medium high heat in the Sauté Pan until your desired crispiness and the fat has rendered out of the bacon and into the pan. Remove the bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel to drain. Pour all of the bacon fat into the Coffee Mug. Mince the garlic and leave it on the cutting board. Return the skillet with the bacon drippings, i.e. the crusty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, to the burner. Add one (1) teaspoon of the minced garlic from the cutting board to the hot pan. Saute for ten (10) seconds and add a big wad of spinach and one (1) tablespoon of water. Using the Heavy Tongs rotate the spinach until it just collapses and wilts, about a minute. Remove the spinach to a serving bowl. Repeat, in batches, with the remaining bunches of spinach adding a tablespoon of the bacon fat and a teaspoon of the raw minced garlic from the cutting board before adding the spinach, no water needed. Continue sautéing until done with all of the spinach. Give the finished product a grind of Black Pepper and a toss with the Heavy Tongs. Cover the bowl with a dinner plate and let cool. There’s no need to add any salt, the bacony bacons are salty enough. 

To serve, simply grab a big tong full of spinach and place in a mound on one side of a dinner plate. Place one (1) of the slabs of crispity bacon on top; a nice side dish.

For a Bacon Fat variation with Frozen Spinach, pour out half of the bacon fat, so that you have about two tablespoons left in the pan, and drop the heat to low, there will be more than enough residual heat to compensate. Add the garlic, and stir for ten (10) seconds. After ten (10) seconds, add the broken up blocks of thawed Frozen Spinach, a grind of black pepper, and give everything a stir until all is warmed through and just slightly crispy, about five (5) minutes. For service, place a nice mound of the greens onto a dinner plate with a crispy strip of bacon on top and serve with some roasty meats. 

There you go.

©2011 L. M. Sorré, Wait At The Bar

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