Pacific Spinach Cannelloni and Nero Wolfe

 Don't you love discovering new authors and new foods?   Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Mysteries have just done it.  He's been around (1886-1975) for quite a few years, but new to me all the same.  The detective hero, Nero Wolfe, head of his own agency,  has been described as "overweight, epicurean and orchid-loving."  And I love how he spends as much time with the orchids as he does solving mysteries and helping his chef, Fritz, to perfect various culinary creations.  In the first of this volume, two novels in one, Black Orchiids and The Silent Speaker, Fritz was making some special sausages, saucisse minuit.  Later on he and Nero, on the advice of a Southern girl, material witness in an ongoing murder investigation, tried adding chitlins to a batch of corned beef hash, in a quest to solve that cooking problem, of nearly equal importance to solving the identity of the murderer.

But to me, the real deal of a character is Wolfe's right hand man and assistant, Archie Goodwin, who has been described as "the lineal descendant of Huck Finn."  He is the young man-about-town in Wolfe's investigations, with a cheerful, humorous, engaging and witty personality, providing quite a bit of comic relief.  I still cannot get over the fact that this is my first encounter with Rex Stout and his mysteries.  Nero Wolfe is apparently a part of detective folklore, for pity's sake.

I am not really a very good gardener, so any orchids that bloom in my garden are just feeling frisky.  In fact I tell people that, around here it is survival of the fittest, which means, in this climate, tropical perennials.  And, on one of those, Pacific spinach, I have posted previously. A slight drawback to this variety, as well as Malabar spinach, is a bit of sliminess.  So, in my experiments that quality is what we work to overcome.  Do believe I've got it licked, acid being the key word.  And rinsing.

The first thing you do is wash the spinach, remove thick stems, then slice it up, and rinse well again (off with the slime) drop it into boiling, well salted water just briefly, only enough to wilt it down.  Add the juice of a 1/2 lemon, drain, pressing gently, and set aside to cool while preparing the remaining filling ingredients.

Spinach Cannelloni  

2 cups prepared spinach
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese and extra for the top
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teas. nutmeg
salt and pepper

8 crepes
About 2 cups tomato sauce, your own or a good prepared variety (I'd blend it smooth next time)

Preheat oven to 350F, put a bit of sauce on the bottom of a 8x12 glass baking pan, then fill and roll about 1/2 cup filling in each crepe.  Top with remaining sauce and extra cheese.

All it needs is a nice little salad.  Bob informed me that this is the best recipe yet for my Pacific spinach.  I thought it was pretty darned good myself.  This post will be shared with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event, and with the November Foodies Read Challenge.


Wendy Klik said...

Your cannelloni looks perfect....

jama said...

Yum! Looks delicious. Enjoyed hearing about the Nero Wolfe book too. :)

Too Fond said...

I love cannelloni--this looks delicious!

Linda aka Crafty Gardener said...

Sounds delicious.

Carole said...

Spinach and cheese. Great idea. Have a great week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

Deb in Hawaii said...

I have heard of Nero Wolfe and vaguely remember the TV series in the 1980s but have never tried one of the books. It sounds like I should. Your cannelloni looks perfectly cheesy and delicious. ;-)

Vicki said...

YUM! I love spinach!

Vicki said...

I'm sure I've heard of Wolfe before but I'm not sure. The cannelloni looks so good.

Beth F said...

I love Nero Wolfe! I've read a handful of the books and saw some of the TV show. He is definitely a foodie and I love the mysteries and orchids too. I like the look of that cannelloni and I bet Nero would have approved.