I love to make vegetable terrines layered with cheese, and keep vowing to get a real terrine mold. I made this the first time with asparagus instead of spinach, and while it was quite tasty, it was pretty ugly. The layer of spinach (or arugula if you can get it) ads a pretty green layer to the top of the terrine when you unmold it. I'm thinking that in the summer I'd like it with roasted red peppers layered in for more color and a different texture, but today I decided to be true to the spirit of the contest and use early spring vegetables (and I do mean early--our heat is still coming on in the morning, and I'm waking up in the middle of the night to put an extra blanket on the bed).
I know that terrines generally have gelatin to hold them together, but I'm not a fan of gelatin's texture (although I do like a good coffee or black tea jelly). So you'll refrigerate this, but it isn't completely solid and it may mush around a little when you cut it.
Lacking a terrine, I used a small souffle dish. You want to press down on the layers as you place them, but not too hard, or they get all mushy.
For added texture, chop up some toasted walnuts and scatter them over when you serve this if you're not using crisp crackers--it needs some crunch.
16 ounces baby spinach or arugula, washed, blanched and squeezed dry
For the artichokes:
Steam the artichokes with the juice and both halves of one lemon a sprinkling of kosher salt till the stem end is just able to be pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool. When cool enough to handle, remove leaves and set aside (for later snacking), scrape out choke and slice heart into thin (~1/4 inch) slices. Set aside.
For the leek confit:
Clean the leeks well and slice in half and then into ½ inch half moons. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat, and sauté leeks with a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally till they are softened and beginning to brown. Once the leeks have started to brown, stir in just enough vinegar to deglaze the pan and scrape up the fond on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to very low, cover, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are browned and caramelized. (You really can't overcook this--it gets better the longer it cooks.) Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
For the goat cheese filling:
Stir thyme, zest of one lemon, salt, pepper and 2 teaspoons (or more--my husband always thinks I use too much lemon, but I say you can never have too much) of fresh lemon juice into goat cheese. Mix well, and adjust seasoning to taste.
Line a small terrine or soufflé dish with plastic wrap. Layer the spinach or arugula at the bottom of the terrine. Cover the spinach with blobs of goat (or farmer) cheese mixture (use about half and try to spread it evenly), lay on the leek confit, then the rest of the goat cheese, and top with the thinly sliced artichoke hearts, overlapping slightly to cover. Press down gently so it molds together. Refrigerate till cold.
Carefully unmold the terrine and turn upside down. Cut into slices or wedges with a very sharp knife. (It may not cut into perfect slices.) To serve, drizzle slices with olive oil and a sprinkling of fleur de sel or coarse sea salt. Scatter toasted walnuts on top.