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Spinach Sautéed with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Spinach Sautéed with Raisins and Pine Nuts
Look for shelled pine nuts that are long and oval rather than stubby and round. The former, which are primarily European-grown nuts, have a delicate flavor, while the latter, which are Asian in origin, have a sharper flavor. Purchase pine nuts from markets with a good turnover as these nuts have a short shelf life due to their naturally high concentration of oil. Store in an airtight container in a cool place away from light for shorter periods, or in the refrigerator or freezer for longer periods.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 lb. spinach leaves, tough stems removed and
      leaves well rinsed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper or cayenne
      pepper, to taste

Directions:

Put the raisins in a small heatproof bowl and add boiling water to cover. Cover the bowl and let stand for about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, if desired, toast the pine nuts by heating them gently in a dry small, heavy fry pan over medium heat, tossing them every so often as they become golden and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Watch the pine nuts closely as they burn easily. When toasted, immediately pour onto a plate.

In a fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté lightly until golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Put the spinach with just the rinsing water clinging to the leaves in a saucepan over medium-high heat, cover, and cook until the spinach is bright green and wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well in a sieve, pressing the spinach with the back of a spoon to remove excess moisture. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, chop it coarsely. (If using baby spinach leaves, omit the chopping.)

Add the spinach, drained raisins and pine nuts to the onion and garlic in the fry pan and return to medium heat. Stir until the spinach and onion are heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 4.

Variation: Use golden raisins or large muscatel raisins in place of the black raisins, and slivered blanched almonds in place of the pine nuts.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Vegetable, by Marlena Spieler (Simon & Schuster, 2002).