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Posts Tagged ‘Spinach’

Unsurprisingly, if I have not gone shopping in over a week, my dinner pickings tend to be slim.  Friday evening was one such occasion.  As I eyed my wilting vegetables and containers of leftovers, I wondered whether Thai take-out might be a smarter idea.  After some deliberation, my Scottish frugality won out over my laziness, and I decided to throw together a refrigerator pasta.

This turned out to be a delicious idea.  I was in the mood for something creamy, so I went for a one-pot creamy pasta.  I had some ground beef leftover from tacos earlier this week, which inspired me to give my bechamel a little kick using Worcester sauce and mustard.  And to I threw in a few vegetables that needed eating. Less than half an hour later, I sat down to a bowl of creamy pasta that could have fooled me was leftover-inspired.

Creamy penne with ground beef and vegetables  (aka refrigerator pasta)

(4 servings)

Ingredients:

1/2 pound whole grain penne

Generous handful of peas

2-3 generous handfuls of spinach

2 tablespoons butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1 red pepper, chopped (or any other veggies in your fridge that need eating – mushrooms and zucchini would be particularly delicious)

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1 bay leaf

Splash of Worcester sauce (plus more to taste)

1 teaspoon mustard powder

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1-2 cups of leftover ground beef

Directions:

Bring a large pot of  salted water to a boil and cook penne to package directions.  One minute before you are finished cooking, add the peas and spinach. Drain into a colander.

Saute the garlic and red pepper in the butter.  Whisk in the flour and continue to cook for another minute.  Whisk in the milk, and add the bay leaf, Worcester sauce, mustard powder, and salt and pepper.  Stirring occasionally, bring the bechamel to a gentle simmer.  Allow the sauce to simmer until thickened slightly.  Taste and modify seasoning to your liking.  Toss in the parmesan, ground beef, and pasta.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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I had been eyeing spinach dips for a while, and finally had a good excuse to whip up a batch on mother’s day. Artichokes can only add deliciousness to food, so when I came across this recipe in Julie van Rosendaal’s Grazing, I knew I had to give it a try. The resulting dip was flavourful and smooth, perfect served warm over crackers. It also made for delicious leftovers the next day, which only seem to have intensified the flavours.

If I were to do it again, I might use cheddar on top and sprinkle it on top just for the last 10 minutes – it would be just a little sharper in flavour and softer in texture for the top. But overall, a winning dip.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Serves 8

Ingredients
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed with excess moisture squeezed out
1-14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped, reserving the liquid
1-8 ounce package light cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Saute the onions and garlic in about 2 tablespoons of the artichoke heart liquid until translucent. Add the spinach and saute until all the liquid has evaporated.

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the artichokes, cream cheese and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese melts. Stir in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and cook until heated through.

Transfer the spinach mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Delicious serve with crackers, tortilla chips, or vegetables!

– Catherine

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Spanakopita

To celebrate the year’s end, my health policy seminar held a movie night Friday.  We watched a classic Quebecois film, La grade seduction (or, Seducing Dr. Lewis).  Filled with quirky Canadian humour, it is a film that melts your heart.  You cannot help but to be charmed by the villagers in Marie-la-Mauderne, and yet it also has real substance, a commentary on the plight of rural Canada’s attempt to lure and retain doctors under often difficult circumstances.

For an appetizer, I brought spanakopita.  I’ve been craving these ever since I went to Niche lounge for dinner in Halifax last month and had their trio of phyllos appetizer.  On offer was the trio of olive & feta, creamy artichoke, and sun-dried tomato & spinach.  The phyllos were melt-in-your mouth crispy and bursting with flavour.  Three, however, merely whet my appetite.  And so I found myself making the more classic spanakopita Friday afternoon.

I love the creamy spinach filling wrapped in layers of crispy phyllo.  I always add extra dill, which complements the spinach so perfectly.  I remember making these for the first time years ago, scared to work with phyllo pastry.  But it is surprisingly easy, the trick being to keep the pastry moist at all times and not to be afraid of a making a few imperfections (or having your first attempts look more blob-like than triangle shaped pastries!).  And once you’ve mastered the phyllo, the sky is the limit on fillings: shrimp and ricotta to curried chicken to apples and cinnamon!

Spanakopita

A moist towel is key for keeping the phyllo moist!

(24 triangles)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1 pound spinach, coarsely chopped

150 grams feta cheese

1 egg

1/3 cup finely chopped dill

Freshly ground salt and pepper

Phyllo pastry

Melted butter (about 2 tablespoons)

Directions:

Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent.  Wilt the spinach until cooked through.  Allow to cook for a few minutes.  Crumble feta in a bowl.  Beat in egg and dill.  Stir in the spinach mixture, and season with salt and pepper.

Phyllo strips cut and ready to roll into triangles!

Roll the strips into triangles by gently folding them like a flag or sail

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  On a clean counter, spread the phyllo pastry and cover with a moist towel.  Lay a sheet of phyllo on the counter (making sure to keep any extra pastry covered), and brush it with butter.  Cover with a second sheet of phyllo.

Using a sharp knife, cut the phyllo into four long strips.  Place a spoonful of the spinach mixture near the bottom of each strip.  Fold the corner over, continuing to fold on the diagonal, resulting in a triangle.  Place the completed pastry on a baking sheet, and brush with the top with butter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.

These won’t last long, so best to eat them warm out of the oven!

– Catherine

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Broccoli and spinach are a surprisingly complementary combo

Cream of broccoli and spinach soup is the inspiration of children’s nightmares.  Even in most cafeterias, you tend to end up with more cream than vegetables, thickened excessively with flour and way too salty.  Flipping through rebar, I came across this recipe and was immediately dubious.  Who is crazy enough to venture into making cream of broccoli and spinach soup?  Deciding that rebar is an excellent cookbook, against my better instinct, I decided to attempt the soup.

May I pronounce that this soup has remedied all reserve I had about cream of broccoli and spinach soup?  Light and packed with flavour, it was truly hard to put my spoon down. The trick is to not overcook the vegetables and to be light-handed on the cream: I substituted milk, and it was just perfect. On its own, this soup is tasty; adding a swirl of pesto (a rebar recommendation) brought the soup to a whole new level of deliciousness!

Cream of Broccoli and Spinach Soup

(6 servings)

Ingredients:

6 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon thyme

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon red chile flakes

1 large potato, peeled and diced

4 broccoli stalks and florets, chopped

½ pound baby spinach

1 cup milk/cream

½ teaspoon cracked pepper

Garnish with almond-Romano parsley pesto

https://gourmeh.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/almond-romano-parsley-pesto/

Directions:

In a large saucepan, sauté oil, onion, garlic, and thyme until onions are transluscent.  Stir in salt, chile flakes, potato, and broccoli and cook until tender.  Add stock to vegetables and bring to a boil; allow to simmer, partially covered until the broccoli and potatoes are tenders, about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in spinach.  Once the spinach is wilted, puree the soup until smooth.  Reheat the puree, add the milk, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Delicious on its own, or swirl in a few teaspoons of almond-Romano parsley pesto.

–       Catherine

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