A simple dish that relies heavily on a few simple preparation techniques, this spinach makes a stunning side or, with a healthy serving of couscous, main dish. It’s about the little things here- making sure to squeeze the liquid from the spinach before adding it to the other ingredients, heating the oil just enough to soften and sweeten the garlic but not so hot that it turns crisp and brown- that make this spinach special. The standard combination of spinach and garlic is punctuated with bursts of sweetness from raisins, which in turn are complimented by salty, crunchy slivers of almond, making this an entirely craveable and satisfying new way to enjoy leafy greens.
1 1/2 – 2 lbs spinach, rinsed well
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter or ghee
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water for about ten minutes
2-3 tablespoons sliced almonds, very lightly toasted and salted
1. In a large pot over medium high heat, cook the spinach until fully cooked. You’ll likely have to put some spinach in the pot, let it wilt, then add more, but don’t worry- spinach loses a massive amount of volume as it cooks (which is why you need so much of it here in the first place), so it’ll all fit in the end. You won’t need to add any water to the pot, either, as long as there is a bit of water still clinging to the leaves from when you rinsed the spinach. You should, however, add a few healthy pinches of salt here.
2. Drain the spinach and rinse it with cold water until it is cool enough to handle. This next part may seem strange, but there is still a lot of water in the spinach, so to avoid a sloppy final dish, you need to take small handfuls- I’m talking palm sized or smaller- and squeeze as much liquid from it as you can. This might take a few minutes, but don’t skip it. Once all of the spinach has been squeezed, set it aside.
3. In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook just until little bubbles start to form around the garlic, then remove from the heat and add the almonds. Let stand for just a few minutes so that the garlic and almonds perfume the oil. Add the raisins, move back onto medium low heat, and immediately add the spinach to the skillet.
4. Stir the spinach into the other ingredients, breaking up the clumps and incorporating the ingredients into the spinach evenly. Taste for seasoning and salt as needed. Pay attention to this part, as this dish will fall totally flat if not properly salted. Once the spinach is heated through, remove from the heat and let it sit for a few minutes to let flavors mingle a bit, then serve. I particularly like this over couscous and crowned with a poached or fried egg.