It’s really hard to put up a savory recipe after a yummy sweet bread like Sam’s pumpkin bread yesterday! But I know you’ll like this delicious-in-a-different-way Spinach and Dried Tomato Roll. It’s packed full of savory-style favorite tastes: garlic, dried tomatoes, cream cheese, to say nothing of the nutrition it offers! Give it a chance!
I can’t remember if it was blog-roll reading or Pinterest where I first saw this creation. I do know it was in December, because the red and *green* caught my eye.
I had tentatively planned to make it for a Christmas Eve dinner offering, but it was on the “If I Have Enough Time” list. I almost never have enough time. So that didn’t happen, darn it! And I had such a receptive group of foodies to try it on, too.
Costco sells 2.5 lb bags of washed and dry spinach leaves. I had no idea. So when I asked my hubby to bring home a large bag of spinach, or two normal ones, I didn’t realize what I was letting myself in for…
This recipe takes a respectable just-under 1 lb of fresh spinach. That’s like a gallon. It was alarming. The 2.5 gallon bag of spinach was even more alarming! But then I remembered just how very much dark leafy greens cook down. Not that you cook these much, but the 2 minute wilting step takes away all the air volume. To about 2 cups or less. Wow.
I used some of my own dried tomatoes in the filling, and a healthy spoonful of minced garlic. Mmmmm! Don’t balk at the salt in the sponge cake part — you are seasoning for all that spinach and the eggs.
My son, who will eat anything, but actually likes veggies, liked it a lot. So much so that he fussed when it disappeared off the countertop when I was taking pictures. My husband, who Does.NOT.Like cooked spinach (adamantly!) liked it well enough to go for a second slice. I liked it. Yeah, well: it has vegetables, therefore I liked it :)
It’s not as hard as you might think to make this. Discrete steps along the way make it easy to spread out the work. You could cook the spinach ahead. You could make the filling ahead, or later, and you can fill it later. It only takes 10-15 min of baking. Remember that I write detailed instructions so don’t think it is difficult just because of how many words there are ;)
Spinach & Dried Tomato Roll
(adapted from Eva Toneva’s blog in Bulgarian)
Sponge cake layer:
14 oz (14-16 cups) fresh spinach leaves, tough stems removed
5 eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
½ tsp to 1 tsp salt (I suggest 1 tsp)
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Pinch of baking powder (a quarter of a ¼ tsp. or so) stirred into the flour
For after baking: 2 oz grated parmesan (I used about ¼ cup, or 1 oz)
6 oz cream cheese
2 – 3 cloves garlic depending on their size, minced
Salt to taste
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
12 dried tomatoes, ½ – ¾ cup, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottom of a 9”x13” pan with parchment. Prepare a large bowl (2-3 quarts) full of cold water and ice cubes.
Heat a large pot with a few inches of water to boiling. Quickly add spinach, pushing it underwater, until it is just wilted, 2 minutes max. Remove spinach into bowl of ice water quickly to stop the cooking. Drain well, squeeze all the water out, and chop well. I wrung out the spinach inside an old dishtowel.
Beat egg yolks, cream cheese, and salt together in a small mixing bowl. Stir in spinach, breaking apart clumps.
Place egg whites into a large mixing bowl. *With clean beaters* beat egg whites until holding soft peaks. One tablespoon at a time, sprinkle flour over egg whites and mix for a few seconds to combine. Stir some of the egg whites into the yolk/spinach mixture to aerate it, then add it all back into the whites and fold mixture thoroughly together.
Pour sponge batter into pan, spread evenly if needed. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350F until center resists being pressed on (It won’t “spring back” like a cake, but you shouldn’t be able to easily leave an indentation.)
While sponge layer baking, prepare a board (or sheet pan) to turn the layer onto by covering it with a sheet of parchment or waxed paper.
Remove sponge layer from oven and let cool 2-3 minutes. Loosen edges from pan, sprinkle with parmesan. Cover pan with parchment-covered board, hold them tightly together, then invert them to turn the layer onto the board. Remove baking parchment off of the bottom of the layer.
Let stand until cool enough to handle, then using the paper underneath it, gently and loosely roll it starting at one long edge; let it cool the rest of the way rolled with the paper until you are ready to fill it. It just needs to be cool enough not to melt the cream cheese filling.
Mix all filling ingredients, except tomatoes, until smooth. Unroll sponge layer, spread filling over it, leaving 1” along both long sides uncovered. Distribute tomatoes over cream cheese. Roll it back up snugly – sometimes an extra set of hands is helpful at this point! Wrap it and refrigerate, seam side down.
To serve: unwrap, slice into 1” slices with serrated knife. Serve cold or at room temp.
If you like the taste of fresh spinach, such as in a spinach salad, you’ll enjoy this roll. The strongly flavored filling brings the right amount of flavoring to the mild and greeny spinach sponge.YUM! And because the spinach is barely cooked, it doesn’t take on the texture and flavor that some people (like my hubby!) avoid.
Google Translate, basic math, and my own knowledge of making sponge cakes (for desserts) came in handy to translate this (and adapt the procedure) from the original Bulgarian. I’m glad I did the work, because these flavors were WORTH it!
→ Are you ready for Pie Crust Lessons? I’m excited!! Everyone should enjoy from-scratch pie crust!
I’ll be posting directions — pie crust beginner school, lesson 1 — on Friday January 18th!!
We’ll be making a mini-batch of crust for practice, and then I’ll show you how to use it in a simple fruit galette (a free form and fool-proof apple/pear/berry/(whatever you have) tart.) Then how about chocolate cream pie for February? Too soon to think about that? OK ;)