No, not Leonardo di Caprio; the real Leonardo, born in the little Italian village Vinci, the Renaissance Man. Since Internet did not exist, and neither did the blogosphere, he wrote – a lot, and on a multitude of subjects, including food. Had he thought of inventing it, together with a bicycle and a helicopter, he would undoubtedly have been nominated for the Blog-aholic Award, the new award created by the tireless Esmé of The Recipe Hunter (Cook & Enjoy).
What is The Blog-aholic Award?
“The Blog-aholic Award” is an award for bloggers addicted to blogging with creative, ingenious and inspiring posts. They mesmerize their followers with their posts, keep them captivated and riveted to their blog. The Blog-aholic Award is also for bloggers who “Share and Inspire Others!” The Recipe Hunter (Cook & Enjoy)
As today is the National Spinach Day, I am sharing a recipe dedicated to a Blog-acholic who lived 500 years ago and loved spinach.
Is this a true Blog-aholic, or what? This is what he wrote about food:
Now does not nature produce enough simple vegetarian food for thee to satisfy thyself? And if thou ar not content with such, canst thou not by the mixture of them make infinite compounds, as Platina describes and other writers on food? (qtd in Freud, Eine Kindheitserinnerung des Leonardo da Vinci, 1910)
Bartolommeo Sacchi, called Il Platina, wrote the first Italian cook book since Apicius, which was also the very first printed cook book (1475) called De honesta voluptate et valetudine (“On honourable pleasure and health”). In Rome, he belonged to a club, the Academy, which was for lovers of classical antiquity. They used Greek names and studied the philosophy and thought of the ancient world. Such pursuits were considered pagan and could bring charges of heresy which eventually landed him in prison (Spencer, The Heretic’s Feast: A History of Vegetarianism, 1995). Platina was not vegetarian, and in his book you find a chapter of meat recipes, but Leonardo, during his years at the Milanese Sforza / Gonzaga court, was impressed by the concept of “healthy mixture.” There is a prevailing belief that Leonardo himself was vegetarian; certainly he abhorred cruelty to animals and sometimes would buy caged birds in order to let them free. Comments about his disgust with man and pity of beasts are found in many of his writings.
Based on these and some more facts (and some very loose conjectures), I have created my own healthy mixture, of sweet potatoes and spinach.
Boil a couple of sweet potatoes. Tip: cut them into halves or quarters, to boil faster and to flavor the water. Once they are done, fish them out of the water, peel and puree in a blender or food processor. Dump the creamy pureed mass back into boiling water.
Shred fresh spinach and add to the pot. Add a handful of grated carrot and bring to boil.
Add pareve soup powder, any dairy free milk (I just happened to have coconut milk, and it actually added an interesting nutty flavor to the soup), and season with salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Throw a handful of fresh chopped dill on top, reduce heat and simmer until your spinach almost disintegrates. Give it a stir once in a while, to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
It’ll take about 15 – 20 minutes, and you have a soup that Leonardo da Vinci would’ve been delighted to eat and blog about. Don’t forget, he was brought up in Florence, and just as crazy about spinach as every Florentine! My husband calls this soup a bisque, probably because it is so creamy, more than any cream soup. I agree because it is definitely bis cuites (twice cooked) which is what bisque is supposed to be. Served with a spelt roll (for recipe, click here), it’s a healthy and satisfying mixture, and the best part is, nobody will put you in jail for it!
- 2 medium sweet potatoes or 1 very large one
- 2 cups of loosely shredded fresh spinach
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
- 1 tablespoon soup powder
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (coconut or almond adds a nice flavor)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Quarter sweet potatoes, boil in 2 quarts of water until very soft. Remove from water, peel, puree in blender or food processor. Add puree to boiling water.
- Add shredded spinach, add grated carrots, bring to boil.
- Add the rest of ingredients, stir, reduce heat, simmer 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spinach almost melts.
- Serve with flatbread or course bread.