Our kitchen garden cook reveals her favourite spinach recipes.
My homegrown spinach becomes very gritty, even after a thorough wash, unless I pick it while the leaves are still small and young. I think it tastes better then, too, so my advice is to harvest early and keep replanting for an ongoing supply of these vitamin-rich, dark-green leaves throughout the summer.
Spinach, lemon and Parmesan pearl-barley risotto (serves 4)
20ml olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
300g pearl barley
200ml white wine
1 litre chicken stock
250g fresh baby spinach, washed
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
100g Parmesan, grated
2tbsp crème fraîche
Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan and fry the diced onion until translucent rather than browned, then add the crushed garlic and pearl barley and stir well until every grain is coated with olive oil. Pour in the white wine it will sizzle, but keep stirring until it’s fully absorbed then add the chicken stock, in one go, and bring to a gentle boil before lowering the temperature. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the barley is tender, remembering to add the spinach just before all the liquid has been absorbed.
Once cooked, squeeze the lemon juice over it, add the crème fraîche, fresh basil, grated Parmesan and mix all the ingredients through well, before topping the risotto off with a scattering of lemon zest and more Parmesan. Serve for lunch with fresh rolls and salad or as a dinner-party starter.
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