Tag Archives: spinach

When Simple Meets Delicious

There are times after a busy day on the farm that I want to make something healthy yet packed with flavor. If I can get it to the table in 30 minutes, all the better. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s made with my favorite legume, the chickpea or garbanzo. Chickpeas go way beyond hummus, and are excellent in stews, soups, sides and salads, along with grains and pasta. They boast 11 grams of protein in 1 cup, and deliver the most nutrients of all other beans. Loaded with zinc and fiber, they pair well with cuisines from many cultures.

This is a simple stew from Catalonia, Spain loaded with garlic, vegetable broth, spinach, saffron and get this, raisins. In the end, this savory-sweet stew hits on all cylinders. We love it, and I think you will too!

CATALAN SPINACH AND CHICKPEA STEW

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, ground in a mortar and pestle or food processor
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (homemade if possible)
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a stock pot over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the sliced shallots and the garlic. Saute, stirring constantly, until shallots are translucent about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in the mortar and pestle or food processor, add the saffron threads, parsley, and sea salt. Process until fine. Set aside.
  3. Add the fresh spinach, and stir until wilted, then add the chickpeas, raisins, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and the almond mixture. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls.

Serves 4

“Beans, beans, the magical legume. The more you eat, the more you consume.” –A. Yankovic

Just Stuff It!

We all enjoy comfort food in the winter, but sometimes we want our dishes to look, well, pretty. Maybe it’s a special event like a birthday or anniversary, and we have a few more mouths to feed and our time is limited. I have the answer! This dish can be made in advance, it’s attractive to serve and will feed 4-6 people. It even freezes well if you want to make a double batch. Even picky eaters seem to enjoy it, and you can sneak a green vegetable in like spinach, to make the filling more interesting. Any guesses? I’m talking about jumbo pasta shells stuffed with spinach, ricotta and pecorino cheese.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know I’m keen on putting up tomato sauce during our growing season on the farm. However, you can save time by using a good quality marinara sauce of your choice. Make sure to read your labels and make sure that it doesn’t have a lot of added sugar. You want savory not sweet sauce. If you want more heat, add a few red pepper flakes and/or minced garlic to your sauce, or maybe some fresh basil or parsley. There are many ways to amp these commercial sauces to suit your personal preferences. You can also fill each shell easily by putting your filling in a sandwich bag and snip a corner. That way you can simply pipe in the filling in each shell without making a mess of it.

STUFFED PASTA SHELLS WITH SPINACH AND RICOTTA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 20-22 jumbo pasta shells
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 16 ounce bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess moisture squeezed out
  • 16 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Lemon zest from 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for pasta water
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 16 ounce (2 cups) jar marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Chopped parsley or basil, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook the pasta shells for 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and drizzle a little olive oil to keep them from sticking together.
  3. Place the drained and squeezed spinach in a medium bowl. Combine with the ricotta, pecorino, garlic, oregano, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, egg, sea salt and several grinds of fresh black pepper. Spoon into a plastic sandwich bag (I put the bag in a quart canning jar to hold it upright). Cut the corner of the bag when ready to pipe filling into shells.
  4. Spread 3/4 (1 1/2 cups) of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pipe the filling into each shell and place in baking dish. Repeat until all your shells are filled. Spoon a little marinara sauce over each shell and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil or parsley.

Serves 4-6

“Sometimes a little comfort food can go a long way.” –Benjamin Bratt

Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit

It’s been cold here, very cold; and there’s nothing more satisfying in winter than a warm bowl of soup. I typically make a soup at least once a week. One of my favorites is anything showcasing beans. They’re cheap, healthy and hardy. With very little forethought you can serve up a soup that will delight anyone lucky enough to dig into a bowl of it. Today let’s focus on cannellini bean soup. You can get a bag of these beans for a couple bucks, which will give you a far superior result (particularly for soups) than you will get with canned. Although soaking your beans overnight is a small extra step it will allow for a much creamier texture in the end; which is one of the hallmarks of a great bean soup.

You can approach this soup in several ways to adjust for personal preferences. For example you can use either vegetable or chicken stock. One thing I can’t emphasize enough is just how important it is to use homemade stock. We all use carton stock in a pinch, but your end result will be just that, and will taste like well, carton stock. No worries though, you won’t have a swat team coming through your windows if carton stock is all you have.

I also like near the end of simmering adding some kind of green. Here, you have many options such as spinach (fresh or frozen), kale, or Swiss chard. If you are using frozen make sure to thaw and wring out as much moisture as possible before adding it to your soup. If using kale or Swiss chard, make sure to remove the thick stems are they can be rather tough, and we want to retain some healthy green color in the end result.

As far as herbs go, you can use fresh or dried; rule of thumb being 3:1 ratio. In other words, 1 tablespoon fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried.

HARDY CANNELLINI BEAN SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in water 2 inches over the level of the beans. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to water.
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup white vermouth (the alcohol will cook out once it’s evaporated)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (homemade preferred)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Soak 2 cups dried cannellini beans overnight, covering the beans with 2 inches of water and adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the water. Drain the next day and place in a large Dutch oven or soup pot with a tightly fitting lid. Cover them with 3 inches of water and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Add 2 cloves of garlic lightly smashed, and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover leaving a little space open for the lid and lower heat to medium-low. Cook beans for 40-60 minutes, or until soft. Drain beans and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering, add the diced onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring often until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, beans, tomato paste, potatoes, rosemary, thyme and paprika. Cook stirring frequently, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the vermouth, stir well and let it simmer until it has evaporated, cooking for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Add stock of your choice, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pot, reduce heat and cook gently for 20 minutes. When the potatoes are soft, and the soup is thick and creamy, add the greens of your choice. Stir to wilt the greens, yet keeping their color and some texture.
  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You may need additional salt, depending on your personal preferences.
  7. Ladle into bowls, and drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 6-8

“Beans have a soul.” –Pythagoras

Satisfying Soupa!

I think many of us would agree that in the winter, soups and stews are so comforting. There is something about their warmth and aroma that is deeply satisfying. When I’m not eating at the table, I have a particular bowl that fits nicely in the palm of my hand. I love to spoon soup from it while staring out on the landscape outside my writing window. It is then when I feel particularly satisfied on multiple levels.

Root vegetables in particular work well in soup. When you combine these with homemade stock you have something nourishing and healthy to offer your family. Maybe it just feeds our soul. One of my favorites soups that is on constant rotation is Minestrone. It can literally be any combination of vegetables you choose or have on hand. Add some beans and greens and you are all set.

BRICKYARD FARMS MINESTRONE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, cut in cubes
  • 2 cups carrots sliced on the bias
  • 2 cups zucchini, cubed
  • 2 quarts homemade chicken or vegetable stock; or 2 cartons organic stock
  • 1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 4 cups baby spinach OR Swiss chard OR kale, stemmed and chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add carrots, sweet potatoes and zucchini and saute for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add stock, tomatoes with juice and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low and simmer until sweet potatoes and carrots are soft, about 25 minutes.
  3. Add cannellini beans and spinach (or whatever green you choose) simmer just until greens wilt.
  4. Ladle into bowls and top with Parmesan or pecorino.

Serves 6-8

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup” –Laurie Colwin

A Soothing Bowl

There have been many times when I’ve felt a little off, that I want to eat something warm, nourishing, and easy to digest. A warming bowl of kitchari is what I make to settle myself and sooth my digestion. It’s clean, wholesome and quite frankly delicious. I sometimes incorporate it with a simple 3-day fast in the spring and fall to bring my system back into balance. Kitchari comes from the Ayurvedic system of eating and health that has been around for thousands of years.

Kitchari is made from organic basmati rice, split mung dal, ghee and spices. You can also top it with the vegetables of your choice, cooking them in the kitchari itself. I enjoy putting a dollop of my homemade cilantro-chili sauce, Greek yogurt and microgreens on top. Vegan’s can simply leave the yogurt off. Kitchari is best when made fresh, so plan your proportions so you don’t have leftovers. I make enough for each day and leave it covered on the stove top. If it firms up simply add a little additional water before reheating. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients; you can also find premade spice mixes if the list seems to daunting.

For those of you that are curious and want additional information about Ayurveda, http://banyarnbotanicals.com is a great website to explore.

BASIC KITCHARI

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup split mung beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon hing (asafoetida)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper corns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 more tablespoons ghee
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2-4 cups fresh vegetables (greens, spinach, kale, zucchini)
  • 2 more cups water (as needed)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Measure out the rice and split mung dal and place in bowl. Add water to cover and soak overnight. You can skip this step (although it cooks much quicker) by rinsing the rice and dal in a colander until the water is clear. If soaking, drain and rinse the following day.
  2. Melt a tablespoon of ghee in a medium saucepan and add the whole cumin seeds and hing. Lightly toast them, taking care they don’t burn. Add the rice, mung and water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. It should end up looking like porridge or oatmeal in consistency.
  3. Warm the last two tablespoons of ghee in a small skillet. Add the coriander, peppercorns and bay leaf and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Then stir in the rest of the spices and the onion (and garlic if using). Put the sautéed spices in a blender with about 1/3 cup water and blend well. Pour the spice mixture into the rice and mung. Rinse out the blender with the last two cups of water and add it to the kitchari as well. Add your vegetables. Cook for 10-20 more.
  4. Top with garnishes of your choice like cilantro, yogurt or microgreens.

“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where we overlap.” —Ani DeFranco

A Pantry Darling

It is blustery and cold today at the farm. It has been a challenging year. A year marked by the pandemic, angry politics, frustration and despair for so many. It has caused us to rethink our lives going forward, and adjust our priorities. As 2020 starts to wind down, I am grateful for the love in my life, shelter from the howling wind outside, and our loving animals. But the one thing that has kept me going day after day is being in my kitchen to create something that not only feeds our bodies, but our souls. Nourishment. We require it as much as the air we breathe. I find this nourishment in the act of feeding others. It is an act of love.

When it comes to what we create in our kitchens, I find there are some ingredients that I return to again and again. I put up dozens and dozens of jars of tomatoes in all their various forms. They are truly a pantry staple. When I reflected on other ingredients, I had to acknowledge an item that has just as much versatility; the humble chickpea. Whether canned or dried this protein warrior is far more than your simple hummus. Everything from spreads, to soups, to salads and entries, the garbanzo bean has it all. Although I appreciate having canned chickpeas on hand, I can’t recommend enough cooking them from their dried state. Quite frankly, they are dirt cheap! But they are also surprisingly delicious made from scratch. When soaked overnight, they cook in about 40 minutes. I usually make a large batch and freeze some of them with their cooking liquid for additional options. Remember to add 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda to every 2 cups of dried chickpeas, in your soaking water. After draining them before cooking add the same amount to your cooking water. This helps soften them. Also, never add salt to your cooking water, as your beans will never get soft.

INDIAN BUTTER CHICKPEAS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes (I use a quart of homemade)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole coconut milk, stirred with whisk in separate bowl before adding
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained OR equivalent of 4 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)
  • 2 cups packed fresh baby spinach
  • Cooked white rice, for serving
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, for serving
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, for serving (optional)
  • 1 lime cut in wedges, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until golden and browned around the edges, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat (you don’t want to burn the butter).
  2. Stir in the garlic and ginger, and cook another minute. Stir in cumin, paprika, garam masala and cinnamon stick, and cook another 30 seconds.
  3. Add tomatoes with their juices. Using a large spoon, break up and smash the tomatoes in the pot. Stir in whisked coconut milk and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and continuing to break up the tomatoes if necessary.
  4. Stir in chickpeas and cayenne if using, simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Add 2 cups packed baby spinach of heat. It will wilt as you stir in in. Serve in bowls over rice, garnishing with cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Serves 4-6

“What the new year brings to you, will depend on what you bring to the new year.”

Edible Culture

As the wind throws our wind chimes against the house, and stirs up whitecaps on the lake; I sit beside our wood burner feeling quite cozy. I was thinking about our kitchen fest last holiday weekend; I absolutely love egg dishes and had made Shashuka on Sunday. The dish’s name means ‘all mixed up’ and in a sense it is. Its name dates back to the Ottoman Empire and is a favorite in the Middle East, Israel and North Africa. It’s hardy, affordable and delicious with warm spices of cumin and smoked paprika, along with tomatoes, sweet peppers, chickpeas, onion, garlic and of course eggs. There are several similar egg dishes in the world that have some of these ingredients along with their own cultural flair. I have always thought that any dish combining tomatoes and eggs is an automatic winner.

Shashuka has a comforting nature and healthy ingredients. There are many variations that allow for levels of spiciness, along with vegetables, herbs and meat. You can add ground lamb or sausage before sautéing the onion and pepper, and garnish it with feta; or you can make it more Tex-Mex by omitting the paprika and adding chili powder, black beans or corn, then finishing it with chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. It’s just plain flexible, so let your imagination soar. These days, practically any dish in which eggs are cooked in a sauce may be called Shashuka. In my last cookbook I have a recipe for Green Shashuka, made with spinach, Swiss chard, arugula or kale; along with onions, garlic, herbs, cream and feta.

SHASHUKA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 sweet peppers, I like one red and one yellow, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15-oz cans fire roasted tomatoes (or 6-8 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 15-oz can rinsed chickpeas
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 2 fresh eggs per person
  • 1/2 cup fresh micro-greens, chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish
Let’s start with onions and garlic
Then add beautiful peppers and tomatoes

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large non-stick or cast iron skillet, heat your oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until soft and translucent; add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add peppers and fresh tomatoes if using; cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add fire-roasted tomatoes if using, then cumin, smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes), black pepper, chickpeas and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Simmer until thickened, about 5-8 more minutes.
  3. Stir in baby spinach and fold gently until spinach wilts. Make indentations in the sauce and gently crack the eggs into the wells. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet, and cook until the egg whites are just set, but yolks are still soft, about 7-10 minutes.
  4. Carry skillet to table and serve hot, sprinkled with garnish of your choice.

Serves: 2-6

Eggs poaching in sauce
Beautiful Shashuka ready to eat!!

“Food is love!!”

Basic Comfort

As we dive into our pantry’s and larder’s, there are few things more affordable than beans. I always have assorted cans on hand for dinners that come together quickly. But when it comes to a texture and flavor difference, I can’t recommend enough, using dried beans. My goodness, could anything be more pantry stable and down right cheap? As many of us are home more than usual due to the pandemic, this is the perfect time to simmer up a pot of these amazing nuggets.

There are four dried beans that I always have on hand, both for their versatility and flavor: cannellini, chickpeas, dark red kidneys, and black. You can create beautiful soups, stews, salads and braises. It is not difficult to cook dried beans; it’s really a matter of time. Although I own an Instant Pot, I prefer to cook beans on the stove. I find that electric pressure cookers give you a lack of control. The beans tend to split and rupture their skins when cooked in a pressure cooker. The beauty of controlling the simmer and cooking time is they will be just right for your application. The only thing you really need to plan is soaking them overnight.

A pot on cannellini’s ready for the stove.

Sometimes you will cook beans to add to your recipe; other times they are part of the recipe and are cooked with your meat. There are a few nuances that I suggest when cooking beans. The most important one is don’t salt your beans while they are cooking. Salt makes the skins tough and doesn’t allow the bean to become soft. Once your beans are cooked to the texture required for your recipe, then feel free to add salt. Beans require salt! I also like to add a few cloves of garlic and a bay leaf, but this is an option, not a requirement. There is such a thing as the pot liqueur or the bean cooking liquid. When I cooked beans for this stew, I dished up a cup of the beans, pot liqueur and topped it with homemade basil oil. I literally swooned!

The following stew is a great way to use cooked cannellini beans. You can use either bulk Italian sausage or link. If you use links, you will simply remove their casings before cooking. The spinach adds a nice texture and color. If you don’t have spinach, you can use Swiss chard or ribboned kale or leave it out completely. The stew will still taste great!!

ITALIAN STEW WITH CANNELLINI AND SAUSAGE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups dried cannellini beans
  • 3 cloves garlic and 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 4 ounces pancetta, finally cubed
  • 1 pound bulk/or 5 links, Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced 1/4 inch
  • 2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

FOR THE BEANS:

  1. Soak your 2 cups of beans overnight. Cover them with about 4 inches of water.
  2. Drain your beans and place in a Dutch oven of enamel covered cast iron pot and cover with water about 2 inches. Add garlic and bay leaf if using. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer. Cover and cook 45-90 minutes until soft. Once soft, add 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and simmer 15 minutes more. Drain and separate beans in half. You will puree one half to thicken stew.
Italian sausage and pancetta

FOR STEW:

  1. If using links, take the sausage meat out of its casings and crumble it into a large soup pot, along with the pancetta.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, until thoroughly cooked and slightly browned. Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients.
  3. Transfer the sausage and pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot (spoon any excess out).
  4. Add the onion to the pot and sauté for 3-5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  5. Add the beans, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, and rosemary. Stir thoroughly and dissolve any browned bits in the bottom of pot. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. With an immersion blender, (I use a quart Mason jar) puree the remaining half of cooked beans until smooth. Add them back to the pot, along with the sausage and pancetta. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove stew from heat and stir in the baby spinach. The spinach will wilt in about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6

Ready to serve
Savory Italian bean and sausage stew.

” A stew sustains you against the hungers of the world.”

The Best of Both Worlds

Now that our shelter in place order has been extended to May 15th, we are all seeking comfort through various ways. For me, cooking and food are my go to sources for calming myself. It is gradually getting warmer, we are planting in our greenhouse, the garlic is growing, and my daffodils are blooming.

These days, when I ponder what to make, it comes from a place of what is available? It becomes a combination of home-canning, frozen, fresh and pantry staples. I must say that when you put a little thought into it, you will be surprised at what you can come up with to warm the belly. This time it was a fusion of both Greek and Italian cuisines that worked quite well together. I love to make spanakopita, but was out of phyllo dough, I had my quarts of roasted tomato sauce and uncooked lasagna sheets. Then it hit me, why not combine the spanakopita in a lasagna? Bingo, the best of both worlds. It gave us a couple days of comfort food.

SPANAKOPITA LASAGNA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 sheets of oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounce bag of chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained in a wire strainer
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 3 green onions, using both white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 10 ounces crumbled feta
  • 16 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 quart of roasted tomato sauce (or equivalent of jarred pasta sauce
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 x 9 ceramic pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place the drained spinach in a clean kitchen towel and gently squeeze out the remaining water. Place spinach in a large bowl.
  3. Add lemon zest, dill, green onions, garlic, eggs, feta and goat cheese. Mix gently but thoroughly until combined.
  4. In a bowl, combine your pasta sauce with the two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Place a ladle full of pasta sauce in bottom of baking dish, and evenly spread it. Place three oven-ready lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Spoon 1/2 cup of filling on each sheet and distribute evenly. Top with three more lasagna sheets, repeat with filling. Repeat one more time. You should have 3 layers of spinach mixture.
  5. On the top of the final lasagna sheets, pour an equal amount of pasta sauce over the 3 groups of layered sheets. Top with mozzarella. Cover with foil and place in pre-heated oven. Bake covered for 25 minutes; uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted and sauce is bubbling.
  6. Let rest for 10-15 minutes.

Serves 6

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“A good cook works by the fire of imagination not merely by the fire in the stove.”

Robert Coffin

We Eat With Our Eyes

It is often said that we eat with our eyes.  I believe this is true.  When a dish looks appetizing and beautiful we want to savor it; we might eat a little slower so we can stretch out the experience.  I have made many quiches; some with, some without a crust, but this technique makes the final product a feast for the eyes.  We are fortunate to raise chickens that lay eggs with extremely dark yolks.  This made the color of this quiche a bright yellow, which only added to its appeal.  It is made in a spring-form pan instead of a pie plate.  This allows for a nice deep well for the filling, which I appreciate; but the real joy comes from using hash browns as the crust.  It literally comes out looking like a work of art.

Feel free to change up the ingredients in the filling to suit what you have or your taste preferences.  You can use arugula instead of spinach or a combination of the two.  You can also use Swiss chard.  Vegetarians can leave out the bacon, and you can use Comte instead of Gruyere.  You decide. It will all taste delicious.

SPINACH & GRUYERE QUICHE WITH A HASH BROWN CRUST

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INGREDIENTS:

FOR HASH BROWN CRUST:

  • 1 package frozen hash browns, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 farm-fresh egg, light beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

FOR THE QUICHE:

  • 1/2 cup red (or any color you have) seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 farm-fresh egg whites, and 3 additional farm-fresh eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or Comte cheese, shredded
  • 4 cups lightly packed spinach and/or arugula mixed
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE CRUST:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Brush the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with olive oil, then line both bottom and sides with parchment paper; brush with oil again.
  2. Combine the hash browns, melted butter, garlic salt and egg.  Mix thoroughly and press into spring form pan, pushing them up the sides.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until hash browns start to crisp up.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR QUICHE:

  1. Fry bacon in skillet, drain and crumble.
  2. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute onions, red pepper and garlic for 8-10 minutes or until soft and translucent.  Add spinach and saute for another 1-2 minutes or until spinach has wilted.  Set aside to cool.
  3. In a bowl, combine the egg whites, whole eggs, 1/2 and 1/2, shredded cheese and crumbled bacon.  Add the cooled onions and red pepper and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into hash brown crust in spring form pan.
  4. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 40-45 minutes or until eggs are set.

Serves 6

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Note:  This recipe is from my new cookbook Twisted Basics: Laugh, Cook, Eat.  You can purchase it at our website

“The kitchen is seasoned with love.”