Nancy Nachman Silverman learned to make this custardy baked spinach dish from Marie-Blanche de Broglie, a Parisian cooking teacher. You can assemble it through step 2 up to a day ahead; cover and chill. Bake chilled mixture about 10 minutes longer.
1 1/2 pounds rinsed, stemmed spinach
1 container (15 oz.) whole-milk ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3 canned anchovies, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
How to Make It
In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, bring about 3 quarts water to a boil. Add half the spinach and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from water with a strainer and rinse under cold water until cool. Repeat to cook and cool remaining spinach. Squeeze or roll spinach tightly in a kitchen towel to remove as much water as possible.
In a food processor, whirl spinach, ricotta, eggs, cream, cheese, anchovies, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until well blended. Pour mixture into a buttered 2- to 2 1/2-quart soufflé or baking dish.
Bake on the middle rack of a 350° regular or convection oven until top looks solid when gently shaken, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.
This recipe is very simple and the ingredients are well balanced to produce a timbale with the appropriate texture and denseness. The taste is excellent and please don't omit the anchovies. Although anchovies are the last thing I would want on a pizza, they really work well with the other ingredients. The recipe also proved to be a good base for some minor experimentation. Last week I used swiss chard, which was abundantly available at my local farmers' market, in lieu of spinach. I also reduced the amount of ricotta and increased the amount of shredded gruyere. Finally, instead of cooking the mixture in a single mold, I used six ramekins which I had buttered and lined with very thin slices of proscuitto. I cooked the timbales in a bain marie for about 45 minutes at 350F. They came out of the molds perfectly shaped and tender. I served them with a warm salad of red peppers sauteed with garlic, olives and capers; and a seperate dish sauteed wild mushrooms with parsley.
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