Pane Agli Spinaci, ahem, Spinach Bread

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.

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Pane Agli Spinaci or Spinach Bread

Adapted from The Italian Baker by Carol Field

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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.

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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.

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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

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That did the trick. Voila. 

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