Tag Archives: spinach

Green Shakshuka

The monkeys and I have spent the winter mostly hibernating, eating comfort food and getting fat. But Spring is finally here! That means farmer’s market is revving up to full swing and new things are popping up every week that make me want to experiment in the kitchen.

In one of those perfect timing situations, the lovely Jenn Louis, a chef here in Portland, is releasing her new cookbook this month (in stores April 11th, woohoo!), aptly titled The Book of Greens! I was lucky enough to be eating at her restaurant, Ray, on the day the author copies landed  and bought the very first copy. Booyah!

The cool thing about this book is it gives you plenty of recipes for the “normal” greens you might be used to eating but also for lots of things that maybe you haven’t heard of or have never tried or didn’t know you could eat. I always get a few mystery items in my CSA boxes and this is going to be a huge help when figuring out what to do with them. This cookbook highlight greens I didn’t know existed and it goes way beyond salads.

This is the second recipe I’ve made out of this book and both have been delicious. I love my eggs and who knew there was a way of making them that I’ve never tried? Normally shakshuka is made with a red, tomato-based sauce but I’ve never seen a green version. Think salsa verde on steroids, with the eggs gently cooked right in the sauce. I love the zing of the tomatillos, balanced with a little spice and a lot of greens. You can eat this with challah toast, or do as I did, and serve it over rice for dinner. I also ate the leftovers over hash browns (don’t judge, you know how I feel about potatoes). This was so tasty.

Green Shakshuka!

Green Shakshuka
(a.k.a. Malabar Spinach Shakshuka, from The Book of Greens, by Jenn Louis)

1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and halved
4 oz. malabar spinach (I used regular spinach, or you could also sub chard)
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
1 jalapeno, stemmed & cut into thirds (remove seeds and membranes if you want it less spicy)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion (I used half since I have an onion hater in the house)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground caraway
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
Sea salt
4 eggs
2 oz. sheep’s milk feta

Challah toast, rice or potatoes for serving

Combine tomatillos, spinach, cilantro, and jalapeno in a food processor. Pulse until all of the ingredients are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process again until the ingredients are well mixed but not fully pureed. The texture of the ingredients should be fine, not chunky. Set aside.

Green things getting ready to get chopped up. Don’t worry, I squished them all down in there.

Over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil in a 10 inch skillet. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway, and turmeric and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. If the garlic begins to brown, decrease the heat.

Add the tomatillo mixture, season lightly with salt, and bring the sauce to a light simmer. Cook slowly until the sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes. Crack the eggs atop the spinach-tomatillo mixture, turn the heat to low, and cover the pan to allow the eggs to cook gently and steam. Cook the eggs until the whites all set, 4-5 minutes.

Spoon into individual bowls with the eggs on top, and garlic with the cilantro springs and feta. Serve immediately with challah toast, rice or potatoes (or for a low carb option, just eat it with a spoon)!

Serves 2.

 

 

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Pesto Potatoes with Poached Eggs & Spinach

Any meal that is centered around potatoes is going to be a winner in my book. There is no better way to get me to eat a whole bunch of spinach than to pile some wonderful potatoes on top of it.

I’ve been known to make this particular meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner (sometimes more than once in a day if I have leftovers). Not only that but the potatoes used in this regularly show up as a side dish for dinner or breakfast as well.  Now that summer is approaching, I already have one pot of basil growing with more to join it soon, which means pesto in my fridge ALL SUMMER LONG!

If you have your favorite pesto recipe or store brand, feel free to use that. For my fresh basil pesto, click here. Or for something slightly different, try my recipe for hazelnut pesto.

Pesto Potato Masterpiece!

Pesto Potato Masterpiece!

Pesto Potatoes with Poached Eggs & Spinach
(Serves 2-3)

2-3 cups red potatoes, quartered
2-3 tbsp. basil pesto
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
Eggs (1-2 per person)
3 cups spinach
Handful of kalamata olives, pitted

For sauce:
1 tbsp. mayonnaise (or olive oil if you don’t like it creamy)
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. pesto

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook about 10 minutes until fork tender (but not mushy). Drain potatoes. In a bowl, whisk together 2-3 tbsp. pesto, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt & pepper. Add potatoes and toss to coat.

Divide spinach between two plates.

Spinach

Spinach

 

Top with potatoes.

Then potatoes. Mmm.

Then potatoes. Mmm.

Bring a small pan of water with 1/2 tsp. of vinegar to a boil. Gently break eggs into the pan (1-2 per person). Turn heat down to simmer. Cook 3 minutes until whites are set. Remove with a slotted spoon and lay on top of potatoes.

Perfectly poached eggs on top. If you prefer your eggs a different way, do your own thing here.

Perfectly poached eggs on top. If you prefer your eggs a different way, do your own thing here.

Mix together sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Scatter a few olives on top of the eggs & potatoes. Drizzle everything with sauce, add a grind or two of fresh pepper and eat!

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Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Like to cook once and eat twice? This is a perfect double duty recipe.  I made this meatball mixture originally for potsticker filling.  Rather than making a huge batch of those, I used half for the gyoza, and used the other half for these fabulous meatballs.  Some quickie sesame noodles while the meatballs cook and you have dinner on the table lickety split.  If you don’t want to use them all right away, just stick the cooked meatballs in a freezer bag and save for another day.

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Noodles

Meatballs:
1/2 – 1 pound ground pork (I used one pound, which will make a double batch or use half for gyoza filling)
1 shredded carrot
1 inch ginger, minced
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
3-4 green onions, chopped

Noodles:
1 package thin spaghetti noodles
1 cup spinach, coarsely chopped
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce (or more to taste)
1 tsp. lime juice
Salt (if needed – sometimes the soy sauce is salty enough on its own)
1-2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl, combine meatball ingredients.  Roll into meatballs and space evenly on a baking sheet.

Meatballs!

Meatballs!

Bake for 30-40 minutes until brown and cooked through.

While the meatballs are cooking, bring water to a boil and cook noodles according to package directions.  When noodles are ready to drain, throw the spinach into the water with them, then drain the whole thing.  Toss with the other ingredients and then gently toss with the meatballs.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve hot or cold.

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Beef Stroganoff Soup

Spring is on the horizon but for now it’s still soup weather at my house.  Oh let’s face it, I make soup all year long.  But this one is especially nice for warming up on a chilly day.  I was in the mood for beef stroganoff but wanted something not quite so heavy.  I also only had a small amount of meat on hand.  So I decided to turn one of my favorite dishes into soup instead.  In  the process, I managed to slip in some extra veggies.  And ding, ding, ding…we have a winner!  I will definitely be making this again.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a somewhat indulgent soup with a nice creamy base.  But it’s also got a healthy dose of veggies.  Compared to eating a plate of beef stroganoff, I’d say this is the healthier choice, if for no other reason that I’m not heaping it on top of a pile of noodles.  I would caution you to resist substituting low or no fat sour cream or whipping cream for the regular versions in this. The lower fat versions tend to curdle sometimes and you will just not get the same nice creamy flavor and texture.  If you want to lighten it up, simply use less of these ingredients and then balance with a bit more water or broth to get the soupy consistency you want.

Beef Stroganoff Soup.

Beef Stroganoff Soup.

Beef Stroganoff Soup

3/4 pound sirloin, sliced thinly
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. flour
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. butter
4 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 cup dry pasta (I used bow ties but any small shape will work)
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup whipping cream
1-2 tbsp. sherry
1 cup chopped spinach

Toss beef strips with flour, thyme and salt & pepper.  In a soup pot or Dutch oven, melt butter.  Add beef and cook until brown.  Add onion and mushrooms and saute 2-3 minutes until veggies start to soften.  Add broth, bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Add water and bring to a boil again.  Add pasta, stir, and reduce heat to medium (low boil).  Cook for 10-15 minutes until pasta is tender.  In a small bowl stir together whipping cream and sour cream until smooth. Stir in spinach, cream mixture and sherry.  Cook 2-3 minutes until spinach is wilted and soup is heated through.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

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Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

Lentils are misunderstood.  They get such a bad rap for being boring, or mushy, or tasteless.  But I love them .  The wonderful thing about lentils is they are so versatile.  Beautiful in soup, but light and small enough to work well in salads as well.  I think part of the problem is that people tend to overcook them.  When boiled to mush, lentils can be underwhelming.  But I cook them just long enough to soften (usually about 25 minutes), leaving them tender but firm.  They have a nice delicate flavor that is enhanced by pretty much anything you combine with it, and they work well with a variety of spices and flavors.  Add to that the health benefits of this high-fiber, high-protein, gluten-free, low cal, zero fat food and in my mind, you’ve got a winner.

You can use any kind of lentils for this salad (I went with the typical greenish brown French lentils).  If you are in a hurry and you are lucky enough to live by a Trader Joe’s, they even sell steamed lentils in their refrigerated section that are delicious and ready to toss into whatever soup, salad or other creation you have in mind.  It just doesn’t get any easier than that.

Rustic spinach lentil salad

Rustic spinach lentil salad

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

1 cup lentils
4 cups water
Olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms (I used half baby bellas and half button mushrooms), cut into thick slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Juice of 1-2 lemons
Salt & pepper
2 cups baby spinach

Bring the water to a boil, add lentils.  Turn down to medium low and cook 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender.  Drain and transfer to a salad bowl. Set aside to cool a bit.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan.  Add half the mushrooms (don’t crowd the pan).  Allow to cook a couple of minutes without stirring to get some good color on them.  Stir and cook another couple of minutes.  Remove from pan and repeat with the other half of the mushrooms.  Add first batch of mushrooms back in, add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook an additional minute.  Add to lentils.  Add lemon juice, a generous pinch of salt & pepper, and a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Stir to combine.  Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.  Add spinach, toss and serve.

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

Rustic Spinach Lentil Salad

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Harvest Enchilada Stacks

One of my very favorite friends is a vegetarian.  She also happens to be one of my favorite guinea pigs when it comes to trying new recipes, especially of the vegetarian variety.  Whenever she is coming over, I try to flex my flabby vegetarian muscle and do something creative that she doesn’t eat all the time.  To take the challenge up a notch, her husband is watching the carbs lately, so easy solutions like pasta are out the window.  Fine by me.  On this occasion, it gave me a chance to try out some enchiladas I had been dreaming up.  You could of course use whatever veggies or meat you like in these, but I did like this combo, especially the mushrooms!

I make verde sauce quite often, so I wanted to try something different and do a red sauce from scratch instead.  The dried peppers added a nice earthy/smoky tone that really went nicely with the fall/winter veggies.  I actually made a bigger batch of the pepper base so I’ll have it on hand for a couple more enchilada dinners later in the month.  Mmm, can’t wait!

Harvest Enchilada Stacks

Harvest Enchilada Stacks

Harvest Enchilada Stacks

Sauce:
2 dried pasilla peppers
2 cups boiling water
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. salt
2-3 cans tomatoes, crushed or blended up

Other ingredients:
3-4 portobello caps, sliced
1 delicata squash, seeded and diced (peel if you want – I didn’t)
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup corn kernels
2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup crumbled Queso fresco
Corn tortillas
2 green onions, thinly sliced

To make sauce:  heat oven to 400˚.  Toast dried peppers 3-4 minutes in oven.  Put in a bowl and pour 2 cups boiling water over them.  Let them sit and soften for 10 minutes and then pureé in a blender.  Set aside.  If you haven’t blended up your tomatoes do that, then set those aside as well.

In a medium saucepan, saute onion for 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add crushed/blended tomatoes and seasonings to pan. Add pepper mixture (if you don’t want as strong a pepper flavor, you may want to add this gradually, tasting as you go).  Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.  If pepper taste is too strong, you can add another can of tomatoes if you wish to mellow it out.

In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat.  Add portobellos, squash and onion.  Cook, stirring often, 4-5 minutes until veggies are tender.  Add garlic, spinach and corn kernels.  Cook another 1-2 minutes, until heated through and spinach is wilted.  Add seasonings and brown sugar.  Cook and stir an additional minute.

Yummy veggies

Yummy veggies

Turn oven down to 375˚.  On a large baking pan or casserole dish, ladle out enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.

Just getting started.

Just getting started.

Build your stacks on top of the sauce, starting with a corn tortilla, then a scoop of veggies, then a sprinkle of cheese (if desired).

Working on the 2nd layer.  Are you hungry yet?

Working on the 2nd layer. Are you hungry yet?

Continue with another layer just like the first.  End with tortillas.  Ladle sauce over the top of the stacks until well coated (you might not use all of your sauce, freeze leftovers for another day).

Don't skimp on the sauce!  If you have leftover sauce, you can freeze it for later or serve it alongside.

Don’t skimp on the sauce! If you have leftover sauce, you can freeze it for later or serve it alongside.

Crumble remaining cheese all over the top and sprinkle with green onion.

Beautiful!  All ready for the oven.

Beautiful! All ready for the oven.

Bake at 375˚ for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to brown.  Serve hot.  Makes 5-6 enchilada stacks.

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Spinach-Feta Omelet with Pine Nuts

I’ve given up buying cereal.  Whenever I do, we each have a bowl and then watch it sit on the shelf thereafter, slowing going stale.  Suffice it to say none of us are big fans of the stuff, in spite of the occasional craving.  I feel better and less hungry throughout the day when I have a bit of protein in the morning instead.

This delicious omelet makes a perfect breakfast or lunch.  The pine nuts add a nutty touch that works beautifully with the spinach.  Add them near the end of sauteing the veggies, since they burn easily.

Spinach-Feta Omelet with Pine Nuts

Spinach-Feta Omelet with Pine Nuts

Spinach-Feta Omelet with Pine Nuts

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 tsp pine nuts
2-3 tbsp. feta cheese
2-3 eggs
Salt & pepper

Beat eggs with a pinch of salt & pepper and set aside.

Heat a medium skillet (I prefer a 10″ skillet for omelets) over medium heat.  Add a drizzle of olive oil and rub around skillet to coat entirely.  Add onion and sauté 2-3 minutes, until tender.  Add spinach and pine nuts.  Cook, stirring frequently another minute or two, until spinach is slightly wilted.  Remove veggies to a plate.

Cooking the veggies.  I only cook until the spinach is just barely cooked.

Keep an eye on the veggies so your pine nuts don’t burn!

Add eggs to the skillet.  Swirl around to coat the bottom of the pan.  Using a spatula, push or lift the edges of the egg, tilting the pan so the runny egg fills the empty spot.  Keep doing this until there is no runny egg.  You will end up with a bumpy, moon crater surface of an omelet, with the egg mostly cooked but still glossy on top.

Scatter cheese all over the surface, and then put the veggies just on one half.

Yum!

Yum!

Cook a minute until cheese starts to melt, fold omelet over, slide out of the pan and serve immediately.

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Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad

I’ve been eating this salad all summer.  It’s pretty, refreshing and really, really tasty!  Especially nice for large groups and potlucks, this recipe is easy to double, triple or more.  Everything can be made ahead; simply wait until serving time to toss with the dressing for an easy, crowd-pleasing dish.  And if you don’t have a crowd, no problem!  More for you.

 

Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad

Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad

Strawberry  Poppy Seed Salad

1 head romaine lettuce
1 head red leaf lettuce (or baby spinach)
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. raw sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. poppy seeds

In a small bowl mix onion, mayo, vinegar, sugar and milk.  Mix well and set aside.  You can do this ahead of time and refrigerate if you’d like. In a large bowl toss together lettuces and strawberries.  Toss with dressing right before serving.

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Smoky Spinach Quiche

Long before I enjoyed eating spinach on any sort of regular basis, I tasted spinach quiche and fell in love.  The combo of eggs and cheese and spinach that wasn’t the least bit slimy or gooey was a winner for me.  It was definitely a gateway to liking spinach for this girl.  It was also a gateway to getting my kids to eat it later on.

This version combines a little bacon and a combination of smoked cheddar and swiss for a smoky twist on one of my favorites.  It comes together in mere moments, leaving you time to toss a salad and watch an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer while it cooks. Even slayers need to eat their vegetables.

Like quiche but not a spinach fan?  Try one of these other versions:
Pizza Quiche
Roasted Sweet Pepper Quiche
Or for a low-carb version, how about Crustless Mushroom & Feta Quiche?

Veggies, cheese, and BACON!  Oh my. Smoky Spinach Quiche

Veggies, cheese, and BACON! Oh my. Smoky Spinach Quiche

Smoky Spinach Quiche

1 pie crust (I prefer Pillsbury refrigerated crust)
1/2 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper
1 package frozen spinach (thawed and liquid squeezed out)
4 strips bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
3/4 cup grated smoked cheddar or Gruyère cheese (I used a combo of the two)
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups half ‘n’ half
Salt & pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Prep all of your ingredients.  In a small bowl beat eggs, half ‘n’ half, nutmeg and salt & pepper.  Set aside.

Chop, shred, squeeze, beat.  I do all of my prep ahead of time.

Chop, shred, squeeze, beat. I do all of my prep ahead of time.

Pre-heat oven to 425˚. Unroll your pie crust and place in a pie pan (I usually dust with a bit of flour on the bottom to prevent sticking).  Smooth out air bubbles and crimp edges.

Start with the crunchiest ingredients.  I put the peppers in first (reserving a few to sprinkle on top).  Then the spinach.  I prefer to use frozen spinach for this.  Thaw it and squeeze as much of the liquid out as you can.  You can use fresh spinach if you prefer, but if you do, cook it first, cool, and squeeze out any liquid.

Layer the ingredients.  Veggies first.

Layer the ingredients. Veggies first. Be sure to squeeze the liquid out of the spinach so you don’t end up with a soggy quiche.

Continue to layer ingredients, with crumbled bacon and smoky cheese going next.  Sprinkle with the rest of the peppers.

Looking good, almost there!

Looking good, almost there!

Pour egg mixture over the top.

Ready to go in the oven, carefully!

Ready to go in the oven, carefully!

Bake at 425˚ for 15 minutes.  Turn down heat to 350˚ and continue to cook for another 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let it set for 10 minutes before cutting.

Beautiful!  It will be poofed up like this when it first comes out, and will sink down a bit as it cools.

Beautiful! It will be poofed up like this when it first comes out, and will sink down a bit as it cools.

 

 

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Tomato Feta Spaghetti

Sometimes you have days where you don’t want to cook.  But you still want real food.  For those days, I have dishes like this.  This is a ten minute dinner, folks.  It only takes a couple of minutes longer than making a PBJ and you will not regret the tiny bit of effort.  Simple, healthy ingredients come together in minutes and burst with flavor.

I usually make this (or something like it) when I have produce that needs to be used and I’m not feeling terribly creative about it.  If your grape tomatoes are starting to wrinkle, don’t worry!  A little toss in the pan will plump them right up again.  In summertime, I sometimes don’t even cook the tomatoes and spinach for this, but just toss them with the hot pasta.  In winter, when I want it a little more saucy, I cook them just for a minute or two, so they are warm but still bright and juicy.

Tomato Feta Spaghetti

Tomato Feta Spaghetti

Tomato Feta Spaghetti

1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups spinach, chopped
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup feta cheese
Salt & pepper
1 package thin spaghetti (or any noodle you like)

Do your chopping and slicing first so everything is ready, as this dish comes together very quickly!

Spinach and Tomatoes ready to roll!

Spinach and Tomatoes ready to roll!

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta until tender but not mushy.  While pasta cooks, drizzle a bit of olive oil in a skillet and saute onion.  When onion is tender add garlic and cook one minute.  Add spinach, tomatoes, and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Saute 1-2 minutes, and then turn heat off.

Sauteed veggies.  Note that I have not cooked these things to a pulp.  For a fresh burst of flavor, they just need a little heat for a minute or two.

Veggies in the pan for a quick sauté.  Note that I have not cooked these things to a pulp. For a fresh burst of flavor, they just need a little heat for a minute or two.

Drain pasta and toss with veggies and feta.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Serve by itself or with a protein or salad.

This worked well as a side dish for Asian-Inspired Pork Loin (or is the pork the side dish?), but it's also great just by itself.

This worked well as a side dish for Asian-Inspired Pork Loin (or is the pork the side dish?), but it’s also great just by itself.

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