Jaleo is a DC institution: a great Spanish tapas restaurant that is a consistently fun and delicious place to eat. I have eaten my way through most of the extensive menu over the years. But one dish that I insist on ordering every time I go is the Espinacas a la catalana. Spinach is not really my favorite green--either when I'm cooking at home or dining out. But this combination of spinach, raisins, pine nuts and apples is much greater than the sum of its parts. One day I finally thought to Google the recipe, and I found a recipe from Jose Andres, the chef-owner of Jaleo, in the Wall Street Journal. The recipe was so simple that I thought there was no way it could be as good as the restaurant version, but when I tried it I couldn't believe how good it was (not to mention easy to prepare).
I think the keys to this dish are starting with a hot pan, letting the apples caramelize, and making sure that your pine nuts get nice and toasty. And don't be shy with the salt. I'm delighted to be able to add this dish to my repertoire, particularly since prewashed baby spinach is so easy to come by these days!
Jose Andres's Espinacas a la Catalana (adapted from the Wall Street Journal)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 apple, peeled and diced into half-inch cubes
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup raisins
12 oz. baby spinach
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the apple cubes and let them caramelize, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes. Add the pine nuts and stir them around until they turn golden brown; stay close by, as these suckers can go from toasted to burned in just a few seconds. Add the spinach and cook until fully wilted and combined with the other ingredients. Season with salt and serve!