This month’s Montengarde Culinary Group night is themed “In the Bleak Midwinter”
“In the Bleak Midwinter” theme – cook period dishes that remind you of warmer times or are from warmer places! No comfort food here – let’s see your vegetables, sallets, light desserts, and the like!
So with that in mind I was looking at spinach pie again, but then I got thinking – I wonder what other spinach recipes there are, maybe something simple, with a few ingredients, and something old, a base concept that gets reused later in other dishes.
So with that in mind it’s time for Fried Spinach.
Today’s recipe comes from Forme of Cury from 1390 England as reproduced in 1780.
And a thank you to Greg Lindahl for the transcription:
SPYNOCHES  YFRYED. XX.IX.
Take Spynoches. perboile hem in seþyng water. take hem up and Spynoches. Spinage, which we use in the singular.
presse . . . out of þe water  and hem  in two. frye hem in oile
clene. & do þerro powdour. & serue forth.
 out of the water. dele _of_; or it may mean, _when out of the
 hem r. _hewe_.
Or with a slightly adjusted based on this copy (I’ve made my alterations to their transcription as seemed fit):
Tak spynoch & prboyle hem in seeþyng watr. take hem up and presse out of þe watr & hefte hem ínþo. fry hem in oyle clene. So þer to poudo douce. & serue hyt forth.
Take spinach, parboil it in boiling water, take it up and press out the water and cut them in two, fry them in oil then sprinkle with powder douce and serve.
That “hefte hem ínþo” bit or “hem in two” or “hewe hem in two” seems a bit odd, unless they mean that when you parboil them you literally dip the bunch of spinach in the boiling water while holding the stems, then cut the stems off after. That makes a lot more sense than chopping up the spinach after as it would be too small to easily eat after being parboiled and then fried.
Pretty simple recipe. It’s corroborated by this recipe from 130 years later from Libre del Coch (Spain 1520) translated by Robin Carroll-Mann.
86. Chopped Spinach. You must take spinach and clean it, and wash it very well, and give it a brief boil with water and salt; then press it very well between two chopping-blocks, then chop it very small. And then gently fry it in bacon fat; and when it is gently fried, put it in a pot on the fire, and cook it; and cast in the pot: good broth of mutton, and of bacon which is very fatty and good, only the flower of the pot; and if by chance you wish it, in place of the broth, cast upon it milk of goats or sheep, and if not, of almonds; and take the bacon, and cut it into pieces the size of fingers, and cast them in the pot with the spinach; and depending on what the season it is, if you wish, cast in fresh cheese; you may do it likewise, like the above mentioned slices of bacon; and if you put in a great deal, do not put it in until the spinach is entirely cooked, and cast this in a little before dishing it out; and if you wish also to cast in tender raisins which are cooked, you can do it all around the spinach; and if you do not wish to put in these things, neither bacon nor grated cheese of Aragon, cast parsley and mint with it likewise; and the spinach will be better.
- Spinach – well cleaned but not cut
- Olive Oil
- Powder Douce
- Bring a pot of water to a boil
- Taking hold of the stems dip the bunch of spinach into the water
- Boil briefly till it begins wilting
- Take it out and press the water out of it (may take a number of presses)
- Cut the stems off
- Fry it in olive oil till beginning to crisp
- Remove, pat dry, dust with powder douce.