Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spinach and Rice Soup

The next cookbook in line on my shelf is More Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. I don't know why it was so difficult to choose a dish to cook from this book. Ms. Hazan is, after all, one of the foremost authorities of Italian cuisine.

So I narrowed it down to the following:
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Frittata con le Patatine Fritte (Open-Faced Omelet with Pan-Fried Potatoes)
Carciofini Gratinati (Gratin of Artichokes)
Crocchette di Patate all Romagnola (Potato and Ham Fritters)
Spinaci e Riso in Brodo (Spinach and Rice Soup)

The ingredients for all of the above were readily available, so that wasn't a factor. I've already made a frittata, so I nixed that one. We just recently had steamed artichokes for dinner, so the gratin was out. I'm not sure I trust the freshness of my eggs, so no carbonara this time. And my last attempt at anything fritter-like was a disaster. So I went with the soup. Can't screw that up, right?

You start by sautéing spinach with a pinch of salt, and just the water left on the leaves from washing, until barely wilted. Drain, reserving the liquid, pressing as much of it out of the spinach as possible. Then you sauté some chopped onion in butter, add the spinach and raise the heat, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in broth and the reserved spinach liquid, and bring to a boil. Add arborio rice, cover and simmer vigorously until the rice is al dente. Adjust salt and pepper, and serve with parmesan.

Verdict? Meh. I wasn't expecting anything earth-shattering. It's just spinach and rice soup, after all. The arborio gave a subtle velvety-ness to the broth, but I wish I had chopped the spinach instead of leaving it whole - it's rather difficult to get one cooked spinach leaf on a spoon without getting a big massive clump.

So, not a disaster, but nothing to get all excited about either. Therefore, this book gets a 2nd chance, and can stay on the shelf until the next cycle through.

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