I’m starting to pick the first of the season’s real spinach. I have silver beet growing most of the year – there’s a couple of months in midsummer when it’s a bit too vulnerable to fungus diseases, grasshoppers and bolting – but with successive planting I can get it most months. And it will substitute nicely for spinach in most recipes. But there are some recipes where only real spinach will do. And real spinach is a delicacy this far north. I can plant in Autumn with successive planting through to midwinter, and harvest from June through to September, but as soon as the days start to lengthen and the weather gets warmer it bolts.
Real English spinach is milder and more tender than silver beet. It takes less time to cook and works better in gnocchi. It is really rich in antioxidant beta carotene, iron and folic acid, and the bit of lemon juice in this helps make the iron available. Mushrooms are loaded with dietary fiber and a good source of potassium, copper, selenium, and B vitamins. With some eggs and feta for protein, this makes a very healthy Tuesday Night Vego Challenge dinner. And not much cheating either – this comes together really easily within the half hour of the rules of the Challenge with just a little bit of multitasking.
Makes 2 adult serves. Double the recipe for more.
Put a kettle on to boil. The gnocchi needs to cook in lots of boiling water.
Get a large, heavy fry pan with a little olive oil hot, then fry over a high heat:
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 200 gm mushrooms, sliced
The idea is to caramelise, not stew, so you need the pan hot. Halfway through the cooking, add a little knob of butter.
Give it a stir every so often and cook until the onions are soft and the mushrooms brown. Tip out into a bowl.
The Spinach Gnocchi:
While the mushrooms are cooking, blanch a big handful of spinach – about a packed cupful – in boiling water for just a minute. Drain well, pressing down to drain off all the water. Then blend the drained spinach with:
- 1 egg
- ½ cup OO bakers flour (I use the bakers flour that I use for my sourdough)
- 150 gm low fat feta cheese
I use my food processor, blending just for a minute or so, to make a stiff batter that still has flecks of green rather than an overall green-ness.
Flour your benchtop well and tip the mix out onto it. Put an handful of flour on top and you should be able to knead. Knead in enough extra flour to make a smooth, non-sticky dough.
Boil the gnocchi in two batches in a big pot of boiling water for just a couple of minutes until they float to the top. Remove them with a slotted spoon into a colander.
Get the pan you cooked the mushrooms in hot again. You may need to add a little more olive oil. Add the drained gnocchi and cook for a couple of minutes, turning gently, till the gnocchi get a little bit of colour. Add the mushrooms back in, along with:
- a good handful of chopped parsley and chives or spring onion greens
- a squeeze of lemon juice (adjust to taste)
- a good grinding of black pepper
- a little bit of salt – doesn’t need much – the feta is salty.
Toss to combine, top with a grating of parmesan, and serve.
Please feel free to join in the Vego Tuesday Challenge – fast, easy, healthy, in season, real food – and add your link or recipe in the Comments.