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Molded Spinach

Lo Sformato di Spinaci

SERVES 8

Dense sformato di spinaci is easy to put together and impressive looking when done in small individual molds. Vary the cheeses in the filling from Parmigiano-Reggiano to Italian Fontina or mozzarella.

Nutmeg seems to be the perennial partner of spinach wherever I travel in the central and northern regions of Italy and the addition of heavy cream creates a pleasing velvety texture. Serve the spinach molds as a side dish with meat or fish entrees.

Ingredients

Three 10-ounce bags spinach, stemmed, washed and drained

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 eggs

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs

Directions

Coat eight 3 by 1 1/2-inch deep ramekins or heavy-duty foil cups with butter spray and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Working in two batches, wilt the spinach leaves in a covered sauté pan, without any additional water, for about 3 minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander and use a wooden spoon to squeeze as much of the water out of the leaves as possible.

Return the sauté pan to the burner and melt the butter. Stir in the spinach, salt, nutmeg and heavy cream and cook the mixture, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes or until thickened.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a hand mixer until frothy. Stir in the cheese and bread crumbs.

Stir the egg mixture into the spinach mixture, blending well.

Divide the spinach mixture between the ramekins and place them on a baking sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Remove the molds from the oven and invert them onto a serving dish. Unmold and serve immediately.

For an interesting sauce: Puree 1 pound of yellow tomatoes and then strain the puree to remove the seeds. Sauté 3 tablespoons diced onion and 1 small clove of minced garlic in 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil until soft. Add the pureed tomatoes and mix well. If desired, add 1/3 cup dry white wine or heavy cream and salt to taste. Simmer for 25 minutes. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to 3 months.

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