Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Creamed Spinach Ravioli and Eating for Beginners Giveaway!

This past October I attended the New York Public Library event The Locavore's Dilemma where I met Melanie Rehak and bought her book "Eating for Beginners." As you may have read in the post about the event, I thoroughly enjoyed reading her book and taking an adventure through the food system with her. Today I am writing about Rehak's book again because I've been given the opportunity to giveaway TWO copies of "Eating for Beginners" that has freshly arrived in paperback form! Her publisher was kind enough to send me two copies to giveaway to you, my readers! I know any of you will relate to Rehak and enjoy her prose and story, as well. The book is also a mini cookbook with one or two recipes after most sections. For the giveaway, I thought it would be a fun idea to make one of her recipes in a wild and crazy way and share it here. 

In autumn I made the tasty, heavily buttered and baconed Brussels sprouts that were a discussion point at the NYPL event and they came out great (page 186). The other recipe that always stood out to me from her book was her "Lucky Dog Creamed Spinach" (page 14, you could say I have a thing for green leafy vegetables slathered in butter). All of the recipes have a fun title like this that usually reflect where the ingredients came from or how the recipe came about. Lucky Dog is a farm that supplies produce to the place Rehak works throughout the book, applewood restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn. As part of Rehak's locavore education, she takes to tracing the ingredients in the restaurant back to their source and learning how they get from farm or sea to table. When she visits Lucky Dog she spends the cold, damp, pre-dawn day picking spinach out in the field. Upon arrival to work at the restaurant the next day, the very same spinach she helped pick had been delivered and ready to be used for the restaurant's dinner service. Rehak makes it into creamed spinach and Lucky Dog Creamed Spinach is born. 

Since there is a half pound of butter in her recipe and I wasn't expecting company- I decided I would quarter her recipe, make it for one and actually created creamed spinach raviolis from it with wonton wrappers I bought the other day. As odd as it sounds, the spinach mixture works really well as a ravioli filling. The béchamel around the spinach makes for a silky, hearty and flavorful inside to the raviolis. Don't have ricotta on hand? Use this instead! You could also add bits of meat or other vegetables to this. Little bits of bacon would add a meaty pop to each bite. 

I serve these in a nutmeg butter. The creamy inside plays well with the crunchy outside-- rich and satisfying. The spice of the nutmeg adds a subtle flavor. Unlike ricotta the smoothness melts in your mouth with a bright freshness from the spinach. Yum! (Recipe Below)
For the Giveaway:

Tell me with what or how you would serve Rehak's creamed spinach in the comments! 

I will pick one random winner and one favorite winner for the two copies I have. 

For Bonus Entries complete any of the following and leave me a separate comment for each: 
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5) Follow Melanie Rehak on Twitter: @melanierehak

If you are having trouble posting a comment on the post just send me an email with the subject of "EFB Giveaway!" and include your comment and any additional entries you have. Email: theculinarylibrarian[at]gmail[dot]com

Contest will close August 21st, 2011 at 11:59pm.

Creamed Spinach Ravioli with Nutmeg Butter
About 1/3 pound of fresh spinach
1/2 of 1 onion
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) of butter
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon of oil
20-30 wonton wrappers
3 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
Salt, to taste

Following the instructions on page 114 of Rehak's book, make the creamed spinach. Note: because the recipe is quartered everything happens faster. I recommend wilting the spinach first. Mise en place will be very helpful here, so set up all your ingredients before you get going. 
When the mixture is complete (it will be thick, but creamy) let it cool slightly. Get out a large platter or tray to set out the filled raviolis on. Also get out a small bowl or cup with water in it to seal the wonton wrappers. 
Whole Nutmeg & Grater
Fill each wonton wrapper with a heaping teaspoon of creamed spinach, dip your finger in the water and run it along to sides of the inner wrapper, fold and press the edges together to seal in the filling. Continue until the mixture is gone. 
Boil the raviolis in salted water. Cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Next, melt the butter in a  large sauté pan, sprinkle in the nutmeg. Fry the cooked ravioli in the butter until they are lightly browned. Add additional salt (and pepper, if you wish) to taste at the end. Enjoy! 
Note: Feel free to make your own pasta sheets for the ravioli dough. I happened to have wontons I bought from the store on a whim and thought this would be a fun idea. To make perfect pasta dough every time, I suggest using Michael Ruhlman's pasta ratio.

Serves 2-3


cookingforcompany said...

Wonton wrappers are so great to have around. I constantly have them in stock during the fall for any and every type of impromptu squash ravioli. Love the giveaway, but really all I want to do is make your ravioli here :) Looks delic.

suburban prep said...

This looks like it would be a wonderful side with a small steak. My nephew is not a big veggie eater but he loves spinach and wow this would be great.

msgb245 at gmail dot com

The Culinary Librarian said...

>CookingForCompany: I LOVE Squash ravioli! Yum.
>Suburban Prep: If you make these for your nephew, I hope he loves them!

Nil Zed said...

Creamed spinach over a big pasta like cavateppi sounds good.

Ann said...

I'm pretty sure you know I'm a huge fan of spinach in most any form, but I would love this creamed spinach with a nice piece of breaded chicken and some pasta (Chicken Florentine style) or maybe with pork tenderloin, another favorite. Though I think I'm not being very creative because I'm drooling over your ravioli and really just want that! :)

Tiffany said...

There are so many great ways this could be served! I would serve it topped with sauteed apples and crumbled sausage OR topped with crunchy pancetta OR in a simple vegetable broth. My mouth is watering just thinking about this recipe!

Dianna said...

I grew up with creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. Would you like butter with your butter? My mother was Czech and it was dinner she made when my father wasn't home. In Germany, they add a fried egg on the side.

Dianna from From Scratch Club

Amy said...

I didn't even try Creamed Spinach until 3 years ago and now it's a favorite - always looking for new ways to make veggies! I love serving it with a great piece of meat and it's the first thing I help my friends make when they say they don't know how to cook!

Ann said...

I think it would be an awesome side dish for any kind of bbq meal, but I could especially see it with a delicious pulled pork sandwich and some sweet potato french fries.

Dani said...

After your post today with the pizza dough, I would really like to try this creamed spinach on a pizza. I think that would be the first way I would serve this.

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