Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cooked Spinach Salad--Meditearanian Style

This salad, coming from a Moroccan cuisine, is not a typical spinach salad because spinach used in it is not fresh but cooked. It is also better to use large spinach leaves for it, which have more texture and a richer taste rather than baby spinach leaves, which are often is used in salads because they are more tender and delicate in taste.

The only challenge involved in preparing this salad is that it calls for many green ingredients and spices. They combine into a wonderfully rich taste. For me, preserved lemons and saffron are the ingredients that contribute most to defining this salad's flavor and saffron also adds a characteristic yellowish color to it. I did not have a preserved lemon when I first prepared this salad and I felt that something was missing. When I made it for the second time I added it and it made a big difference, making the salad more tart and more exotic.

In winter, this salad can be served in room temperature, but in summer it should be served straight from the fridge, as cold as possible.

Cooked Spinach Salad

2 lb spinach leaves(regular, not baby leaves),
4 tbsp olive oil,
1 bunch flt leave parsley, chopped,
1 bunch cilantro,
2 garlic cloves,
2 medium tomatoes (heirloom as best as they are not so juicy) blanched, peeled and chopped,
a pinch of saffron,
1 tsp ground cumin,
1 tsp paprika,
1 preserved lemon (skin only) cut into very small cubes,
1/3 cup red olives,
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Blanch spinach in a large pot of boiling, salted water for about 3 minutes. Drain well, squeeze out the extra water, let it cool and chop it.

2. In a large frying pan heat the oil. Add to the pan parsley, cilantro, saffron, cumin, paprika, garlic and preserved lemon. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, until a green sauce forms.
3. Add to the green sauce chopped tomatoes and let it simmer again for another 5 minutes.

4. Add chopped spinach and cook briefly on a high heat, stirring constantly.
5. Finally fold in olives and turn off the heat. Cool the spinach completely.
6. Garnish with cilantro leaves and cherry tomatoes cut in halves.