The Wonders of Winter Spinach

This hearty vegetable tastes better after frost.

By Edward Lee

Photography by Thomas MacDonald


Winter Spinach Sformato recipeShiitake Vinaigrette

  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely diced shallots
  • 1/2 ounce chopped walnuts
  • 2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup walnut oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt the butter in a small pan. Add the shallots and walnuts and saute on medium heat for 3 minutes.

2. Add the mushrooms and soy sauce and saute for another 3 minutes.

3. Add the walnut oil and sherry vinegar. Remove from the heat and stir to combine. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Winter Spinach Sformato
Sformato, an Italian favorite, is somewhere between a baked custard and a souffle and can be savory or sweet. Most sformato recipes start with a bechamel or white sauce, but I substituted tofu to preserve as much of the clean bright flavor of the spinach as possible.

  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 10 ounces spinach, washed and drained
  • 5 ounces firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Shiitake Vinaigrette (recipe above)
  • Thinly sliced radishes (for garnish)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Heat the butter in a large skillet. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.

2. Add the spinach a handful at a time, stirring constantly just to wilt all the spinach, about 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.

3. In a blender, place the tofu, milk, and cheese. Puree until smooth. Add the spinach and egg, and puree again until smooth.

4. Season with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. This mixture makes 3 1/2 cups.

5. Spray eight 3-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray. Pour in the batter. Place on a pan with a little water on the bottom and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

6. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes to ensure they turn out without collapsing. Run a toothpick along the sides to release from the ramekins. Invert onto a plate. Top with the vinaigrette. Garnish with radishes and serve.

Makes 8 servings

Recipes by Edward Lee, owner and chef at 610 Magnolia Restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky.