I had been reading Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, and came across Julia's recipe for Canapes aux Epinards, which is braised spinach mixed with swiss cheese ( thinking goat cheese would be wonderful, too) and piled on buttered, toasted bread, so I made that as well. A delicious spinach feast for a late lunch, sitting in the sun, watching the snow melt.
For the Spinach and Sweet Potato soup:
Serves 3 or 4.
4 cups packed, washed spinach, stems ok
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup slice white of leek
1/2 cup peeled, diced sweet potato (large dice)
heft pinch of thyme
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon unsalted butter stirred in at the end
In large saucepan, place stock, sweet potato, and leek white. Simmer until potatoes are tender.
Add the thyme, nutmeg, hot pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to the potatoes, then add the spinach. Simmer a few minutes, take off the heat, stir, then cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
Uncover the soup and, using an immersion blender, puree the soup, then add the butter. Serve immediately with spinach and cheese toasts.
The spinach and cheese toasts:
There are two steps to making these - first you cook and drain the spinach, then braise it in a little butter. then you saute the spinach with cheese and the toasts in butter ( or oil), then heap them , sprinkle more cheese on, and run them under a broiler. I used a toaster oven since I only made 8 little toasts.
2 cups fresh, washed spinach, firmly packed, stems removed
a saucepan of boiling water
Place all the spinach in the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, then run cold water over the spinach to retain the color, and drain again.
When the spinach is cool, take handfuls of the spinach and squeeze all the moisture out. It's amazing what you end up with - a handful of spinach!
Chop the spinach finely.
In skillet, melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, then add the spinach and stir until the spinach absorbs the butter. Sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg and salt and take off heat, scraping into a bowl.
For the toasts:
3 slices or so of white bread ( I use Pepperidge Farm), trimmed of crusts if desired, and cut into quarters
3 T. unsalted butter and/or olive oil
Toast the bread in the butter or oil in a skillet, on both sides, removing when golden.
Place the spinach back in the skillet with a little oil or butter.
Grate about 1/4 cup Swiss cheese ( or use another cheese).
Sprinkle a tablespoon or so on the spinach and stir.
Place a spoonful of spinach on each toast, topping with a pinch of cheese.
Place under broiler just before serving just until cheese melts.
The toasts also make wonderful appetizers for a party - enjoy!