Over wintered and some spring sown spinach is bolting in the garden – it’s the time of year for spinach to flower – so we have an abundance of it to use. Yesterday I made two quite different dishes featuring spinach for the lunch for our compost course at Homeacres: rich chocolatey spinach brownies and a spinach pate, with a rich depth of flavours.
This plant based pate combines freshly harvested ingredients (green garlic, basil, spinach) and home stored, home grown dried tomatoes and czar beans. Every autumn I dehydrate tomatoes grown in my polytunnel and dry and store beans in jars in the larder to use until the fresh beans are growing again.
This was the first sizeable 2019 harvest of basil from the polytunnel. We didn’t grow the lemon 🙂 Green garlic is the freshly pulled garlic before it has dried for storage, always a treat at this time of year.
This recipe will be delicious using shop bought ingredients. You can buy dried butter and other white beans in whole food stores and supermarkets and also tinned beans – in fact I made sure the recipe quantities work with a 400g tin of butter beans, which gives the drained weight of roughly 240g.
I always have tinned of pulses in the cupboard, they’re very useful. Even though I grow many different kinds of dried beans and other pulses, it isn’t always convenient or possible to soak them overnight and cook the next morning (especially not at the moment as my cooker is totally broken – this was made at Charles’ house) And there’s little likelihood of my young people doing that when making their meals…! We are part of a food coop so buy organic tinned beans: all regular supermarket beans will be fine too and cheap (Lidl’s are 33p).
Czar beans are very easy to grow and I explain how you can sow them now for a crop this autumn in this blog here. They are a kind of runner bean and grow well in the UK. Alternatively, you can use Gigantes or the smaller white beans such as cannellini, if you grow those instead.
I’ll add a list of substitutions at the end of the recipe. The cup measures are standard American cups. I used a Magimix food processor to blend this. You could also use a handheld stick blender or if you’re feeling particularly energetic, pound in a large pestle and mortar.
Bring On Summer Spinach and Czar Bean Pate
240g (1 1/2 cups) white czar beans, cooked and drained
300g spinach (approx 10 oz or so)
25g sun dried tomatoes, soaked in a little hot water to rehydrate
1 whole green garlic
1/2 lemon, juiced
30-50g basil (a bunch)
1 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
salt and pepper to season
scapes – garlic, leek or onion (optional)
water to mix
Heat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Place the whole green garlic in an oven proof tray, drizzle with olive oil and cook for about 10 minutes. Then add the scapes – mine were from elephant garlic and spring onions – to the pan and return to the oven until cooked – another 5 minutes or so. Leave too cool.
I think the scapes look so elegant and beautiful.
Put the beans, tomatoes with the soaking liquid, lemon juice, basil and spinach into the food processor. You may need to add the spinach a little at a time.
Open the garlic bulb and add the juicy roasted flesh. With a sharp knife, open the stem and remove the soft parts: add to the mix.
Place in the food processor with the other ingredients.
Add the olive oil and some seasoning if desired, then whizz.
Once all of the spinach has been incorporated, check to see if it is the consistency that you want. It’s a silky puree, rather like hummus. Add a little more water if it seems too thick. Then, spread into your dish and lick the bowl clean (don’t lick the blade, use a spatula!)
Decorate the pate with the roasted scapes. I chopped them to size and then cut the remaining scape stalks into bite sized pieces.
You could also use chopped basil or other seasonal herbs, pieces of chopped sundried tomato or simply a drizzle of olive oil, whatever you fancy!
This is delicious served as we did as part of a selection of different salads, or spread onto bread. It makes a nice filling for wraps including lettuce ones (spread on a leaf, add finely chopped veg, roll up and munch), stirred through pasta or rice… however you fancy. I rather like it eaten straight from a spoon.
Czar beans – butter beans or any white bean, or try darker beans such as borlotti or kidney -a different flavour, still tastes good.
Sun dried tomatoes – these are widely available dried, but you can use tomatoes preserved in oil (can be around 90p in the cheaper priced supermarkets). Use the oil from the jar in this recipe too. Or you could use peppers preserved in oil. Or add a couple of tbsp of tomato puree, or a tsp or so of tomato powder.
Basil – if you’re making this in the winter months when basil isn’t in season, use any fresh green herb you fancy eg: parsley, French tarragon, coriander.
Olive oil – any light oil will be fine, or for oil-free leave out and add more water
Spinach – replace with chard (remove the stems and steam or roast – nice drizzled with butter/oil or use in place of the scapes). Its fine to use defrosted frozen spinach too.
Green garlic – use regular garlic
Scapes – these are the flowering stems of hard necked garlic, elephant garlic, leeks and onions (regular or spring). If your onions are bolting do not despair – use the flowering parts as scapes and the bulb as usual. They are for sale in shops but I have only ever seen them at scary prices. You could always roast some spring onions or slices of red onion instead as a topping.
Ps: regarding my cooker, I have an engineer coming next Friday so I’m hopeful all will be repaired then. In the meantime in my house we’re using a single ring induction plug in hob so not starving 🙂