Region: Italy, Emilia-Romagna
The name for this torta di spinaci alla Piacentina (spinach torte from Piacenza) in Emilian dialect is scarpassa. It is a stunning preparation for spinach that comes from the town of Piacenza in the Po River valley, a town that played an important role in the development of agricultural enterprises and the history of capitalism in the Middle Ages. I would seriously consider doubling this elegant recipe because I never have leftovers when I make it.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Preparation Time: 40 minutes
2 pounds flat-leaf spinach, heavy stems removed and rinsed well
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
3/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in tepid water 30 minutes
6 tablespoons half and half
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (See Note)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Place the spinach with only the water adhering to it from its last rinsing in a pot and barely wilt over high heat, covered, about 3 minutes. Drain well, squeezing out as much water as possible, chop and set aside.
2. In a casserole, melt 2 tablespoons butter with the parsley and garlic over medium-high heat and add the drained spinach. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, stirring. Drain the dried mushroom, chop, and add to the spinach. Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour in the cream and cook until it looks soupy and creamy, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 tablespoons bread crumbs and stir. Remove the casserole from the heat and add the eggs and cheese. Stir to mix well and leave aside while you continue the preparation.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
4. In a skillet, heat the olive oil with the remaining butter over high heat. Brown the remaining bread crumbs, stirring frequently so they don't burn, and cook until golden, about 6 minutes. Spread half the bread crumbs on the bottom of a small casserole and spread the reserved spinach on top. Spread the remaining bread crumbs on top to form a top crust. Bake until heated through, about 15 minutes. Serve.
This amount can be made from crumbling four
1/2-inch thick slices of 5 x 3-inch French or Italian bread in a food