Regretfully late to the party, I just found out that it is National Vegetarian Week. I am not card-carrying, so to speak, however, I do love my vegetables. Spinach goes well in smoothies, but I wanted to know if I could just toss it into bread willy nilly. Turns out, not so good on its own, but with the right spread and toasted, Spinach Bread is a delight.
Pane Agli Spinaci or Spinach Bread
Adapted from The Italian Baker by Carol Field
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
3/4 reserved spinach liquid/water
1 heaping cup of sourdough starter
1/4 tsp sugar
1 package (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed + squeezed dry, liquid reserved
Equivalent amount of frozen kale
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
In a small pan, saute the garlic in the oil until lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
In the microwave, warm 1/4 cup of the reserved spinach liquid to about 110 degrees. Combine the warm liquid, sourdough starter and sugar in a bowl.
Add the remaining 1/2 cup spinach liquid, garlic + oil, thawed spinach, and nutmeg and mix with the paddle. Add the flour and salt and mix until flour is absorbed.
Knead on a floured surface for about ten minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1-1.5 hours.
Pour the dough onto a floured countertop. It will be very wet and sticky, but you will work more flour into the dough as you shape. Don’t punch the air out. Shape into a round loaf and place on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Using a razor or sharp knife, slash the top of the loaf in a “V”. Bake on the middle rack for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 400 degrees and back for 30-35 minutes more. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.
As I mentioned, this bread isn’t the greatest all by itself. Tastes like a chalky salad. I wanted to enjoy it, though, because it was so packed with good ingredients. Thankfully, I whipped together a spread that makes it to die for. Toast thin slices of the spinach bread with olive oil in a toaster oven.
In a small bowl, whip together:
4 oz sun dried tomatoes, chopped fine
3 tbsp red peppers, chopped fine
5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
½ tsp black pepper
4 oz cream cheese
That did the trick. Voila.