The games have begun and soccer fever has taken South Africa by storm! I never thought I'd say this (after all I am probably the most un-sporty person on the planet), but I've been caught up in the excitement too and found myself shedding a tear during the opening ceremony and screaming like a banshee during the opening game (SA vs Mexico). For the past few nights I've gone to sleep with the drone of a distant vuvuzela and the same sound has greeted me when I wake up in the mornings. To say that the atmosphere in South Africa is electric would be a severe understatement. We last had this kind of vibey atmosphere during the Rugby World Cup in '95 - how privileged am I to experience both in my lifetime!
But first let me get on my soapbox regarding the much-maligned vuvuzela. Yes, the noise can be irritating at times, but it represents so much more than that. Like it or not, the vuvuzela is a huge part of our national identity. Something that we desperately need to nurture, a unifying symbol if you will. For the overseas visitors - I am truly sorry if your eardrums are affected by the noise, but this is Africa baby! You've got to accept a foreign country warts and all and unfortunately this wart is here to stay.
Now that I've got that out of the way, I decided to delve into the food of Uruguay in honour of South Africa's next game against them on Wednesday. Okay, perhaps the good looking Uruguayan team had a leeetle something to do with it too... Boy, there's some talent in that team!
But I digress. This spinach tart is one of Uruguay's most popular dishes and is a tried-and-tested way for Uruguayan moms to get their kids to eat spinach (apparently that's a universal problem). The tart is also actually a pie as the filling is usually encased in pastry, but the sunny eggs looked so pretty on top I couldn't bear to cover it up. You can make the dough from scratch, but I believe that puff pastry is regarded as an acceptable substitute. One bite into this tart and it's clear why it's such a classic - buttery puff pastry and creamy spinach topped by golden eggs - what's not to love?
Adapted from Food of South America
Serves 6 - 8 (as side-dish)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 bunches of spinach, washed, stalks removed and roughly chopped
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
400g (approx 1 lb) ready-rolled puff pastry
1. Pre-heat oven to 180C (350F). Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and fry until soft, stirring occasionally.
2. Add spinach to the pan along with a little water, then cover and allow to steam until soft - this will take about 5 minutes.
3. Remove spinach from heat, drain and season to taste with salt and pepper. Beat one egg and add to the spinach mixture along with breadcrumbs and cheese. Mix to combine.
4. Line the bottom of a greased ovenproof casserole dish with the puff pastry dough. Spread spinach mixture evenly on top, making 4 indentations in the filling. Using the four remaining eggs, break one egg into each indentation. Sprinkle with salt and a little bit of pepper, then place in oven and bake for
Nutritional info (per serving): Calories 439.4 , Total fat 29.4 g, Saturated fat 6.1 g, Polyunsaturated fat 12.9 g, Monounsaturated fat 8.3 g, Cholesterol 160.3 mg, Sodium 309.2 mg, Potassium 661.9 mg, Total carbohydrate 30.7 g, Dietary fiber 3.3 g, Sugars 0.8 g, Protein 13.5 g
Good source of: Vitamin A 188.4 %, Folate 60.1 %, Manganese 59.2 %, Vitamin C 48.0 %, Selenium 37.9 %