Spinach cooked with raisins and pine nuts, Espinacs amb panses i pinyons, is a classic Catalan dish. Usually it is made in the following way:
Wash the fresh spinach and put into a pan with the droplets of water still clinging to it. Don’t add more water, just boil it slowly until soft and stir in a bit of salt. Meanwhile take a fistful of raisins (be generous with these) and a scattering (again, an ample scattering) of pine nuts and briskly and briefly toss them in olive oil, until the raisins have swelled up and the pine nuts are golden brown. Drain the spinach well, add the contents of the two pans together, swirl together and serve.
This is fine. But in the Fonda Toldrà in Ulldemolins they always added served it in béchamel sauce. It was wonderful that way. I have no idea whether the Fonda Toldrà still exists. It is twenty-five years since I was in Ulldemolins. But now I always make spinach with raisins and pine nuts in a béchamel sauce. I made it tonight. It brought back good memories of cold evenings, ricketty bedsteads, shared bathrooms, wonderful walks to the tiny church of San Bertomeu–and delicious, unpretentious food.