In my last post, I gave a recipe for frittata that included New Zealand spinach. I have continued to look for new ways to use the plentiful New Zealand spinach that grows in my garden. Here is my most recent discovery. First, though, here is a photo of the plant itself. To harvest, I break off and use the top 4 or 5 inches of as many stems as I need to make the amount of spinach I need.
New Zealand Spinach growing in a San Francisco Garden in November.
It is tolerant of both cold weather and hot weather.
Minestrone Genoa Style with New Zealand Spinach
I started with a recipe for Minestrone Genovese on page 27 of the book The Pleasures of Italian Cooking, by Romeo Salta.(It is the cookbook that introduced American diners to Northern Italian cuisine.) I chose this recipe because I had harvested a very large leek and had some dried beans of various kinds and plenty of New Zealand spinach. The recipe called for kidney beans and common spinach, but I substituted. It also called for macaroni and for a little diced bacon, but I didn’t want to use them and the soup was delicious without either.
2 Tablespoons olive oil 2 Quarts of water or stock
1 Cup grated carrot 3 Cups of cooked beans
1 Cup chopped onion (I used Christmas limas)
2 leeks (white and light 1 teaspoon salt
green parts) sliced Black pepper (up to 1/2 teaspoon)
2 Cups diced potatoes 3 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 Cups chopped New Zealand spinach 1/2 teaspoon basil (2 teaspoons fresh)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook the onions, leeks, potatoes, and spinach in it for five minutes. In a pot mix the water or stock, beans, salt and pepper and cook over low heat for one hour. In an electric blender, puree the parsley, basil, and garlic. Add this to the soup. Cook about 20 minutes longer. Serve with grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese.
I used vegetable stock I had made by cooking the leek tops and soup celery stems and leaves with a bay leaf and some thyme, then straining out the solids and keeping the stock.
Beans just about double in size when you cook them—maybe a wee bit more. To reduce the gassiness they can cause, either soak in a lot of water overnight drain them in the morning, add fresh water and cook them, or boil then in a lot of water, briefly, drain them, and then cook them in fresh water.