Tag Archives: spinach

Penne alla Sherry with Shiitake Mushrooms and Spinach ~*Recipe ReDux*~

23 Dec

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This month’s The Recipe ReDux theme is a repeat of last December’s theme: Grab a Book & Cook.

It’s the end of the year and we’re taking a moment to reflect – The Recipe ReDux has been around for 54 months! To celebrate, we’re playing a little party game this month: Grab your nearest cookbook and ReDux the recipe on page 54 or 154. We can’t wait to see the books you’re cooking from these days.

The newest addition to my cookbook collection is The Pollan Family Table, the best recipes and kitchen wisdom for delicious, healthy family meals (thanks for the gift, Emily!). When I flipped to page 154, the recipe for Penne alla Sherry with Shiitake Mushrooms and Spinach jumped out at me because Continue reading

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Bon Appetit’s Chickpea, Barley, and Feta Salad

17 Jul

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My pantry is filled with grains. Grains in various packages–bags, quart containers, boxes, tupperware, and random bulk-bin bags. Grains in various amounts–a nearly full container, half empty, one or two servings left, and a serving that requires more math to calculate liquid-to-grain ratios than I would like to think about.

In my pantry I have: amaranth (I’ve been checking this post out for how to use my amaranth. I want to try popping it), bulgur (that one is in the fridge for some reason), three different kinds of oats, about two servings-worth of farina, polenta, grits, barley, a cupful of arborio rice, couscous, short grain brown rice, jasmine rice, farro, roasted buckwheat grouts (aka kasha), a handful of egg noodles, angel hair, and spaghetti. I recently polished off the quinoa and the millet, and I am exercising serious restraint not to buy more before I finish off some of my other grain odds and ends. Those darn odds and ends. At least grains have a long shelf life.

Looks like Amanda Hesser and I are on the same wavelength, though. She recently prepared lunch for her kids by using up the “various inconvenient amounts” of grains lying around. She boiled them one at a time in the same pot and, like magic, lunch was packed and pantry space was created and only one pot was dirty.

The upshot of all of this pantry overload is that overtime I built myself a arsenal of healthy, quick (and not-so-quick) pantry grains for that perfect throw-together meal. I just need a better system for storing, organizing, and keeping track of all the grains.

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One of the many grains in my pantry is barley. I bought the barley in the winter when I made this creamy chicken soup, and it’s about time that I use it again. Let’s take barley’s “heft and chew” from winter stew to summer salad.

I enjoyed a big bowl of Chickpea, Barley, and Feta Salad for dinner with a little sautéed pesto zucchini and a cold cherry balsamic shrub with a squeeze of lemon juice. Hit. The. Spot.

Leftover grain salads make a great lunch the next day, too.

Barley tip: I soaked the pearled barley in water overnight to speed up the cooking time. Soaking is also thought to enhance the nutrient absorption of the grain by decreasing phytic acid. Nutrition Stripped has a handy guide on soaking and sprouting as a quick reference.

Soaking changes the color of the barley to a slightly gray-color vs. a toasty beige, but the taste is essentially the same. Check out this Serious Eats post about soaking. Up to you if you want to soak, but I recommend it, if anything to save you some time.

Don’t have barely on hand? Feel free to use brown rice, quinoa, farro, wheatberries, pasta, or really any other grain you have in your pantry!

Chickpea, Barley, and Feta Salad

adapted from Bon Appetit

makes about 4 servings

NOTE: I didn’t use all of the barley that I cooked. That was my personal preference. Using all of the barley for this recipe seemed like A LOT of barley, and I liked having more even amounts of grains, beans, and veggies in my salad. I saved some of my leftover barley in the fridge and ate it later in the week with different accoutrement. You can also eat leftover barley as a sweet or savory breakfast. 

8 oz. green beans, halved crosswise

1 cup pearled barley, soaked overnight and drained

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)

1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 oz. feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

handful of fresh spinach, leaves torn

juice of half a lemon

optional: fresh ground pepper, pinch of salt, a few sprigs of fresh herbs (thyme, oregano…), a pinch of your favorite spices 

  • Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using a sieve or a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water.
  • Return water to a boil, add barley, and simmer until tender (refer to packaging for timing, mine only took about 10 minutes since I soaked it overnight); drain. Let cool slightly.
  • Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook pumpkin seeds, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes; let cool.
  • Toss green beans, barley, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, feta, spinach, lemon juice, and optional herbs and spices in a large bowl. Enjoy!

Soft Polenta with Sautéed Spinach and Shrimp

30 Apr

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I like my quick vegetarian meals. I can turn out an easy dinner with very little preparation, and it always tastes good. Lately, though, I’ve been wanting some variety in my diet.

I’ve now checked sardines off the list of foods I’ve never eaten at home. They were excellent in pasta with broccoli rabe, pine nuts, and golden raisins. The other day I bought anchovy paste so that I could play around with flavor. I’m open to anchovy suggestions if anyone out there has some…

And now, I can check off shrimp. I order shrimp at restaurants occasionally, but I’m not a diehard fan. Nevertheless, shrimp is a quick-cooking protein and I figured I’d take it for a spin at home for a change. I found some decently sustainable frozen shrimp at Whole Foods. They defrost quickly either overnight in the fridge or under cold running water for about 6 minutes.

I sautéed some onion and garlic in a pan, added the shrimp, and a heaping few handfuls of spring spinach from the Columbia Greenmarket.

Served atop a bed of soft, Farmer Ground Flour polenta from my local butcher, Harlem Shambles ($5 for a big bag!). I like to cook polenta in mostly water with a little milk, and I finish it with a pat of butter, a few grates of Parmesan, and a few dabs of plain Greek yogurt. Creamy and dreamy. Don’t forget the black pepper!

Earlier in the week, I baked a bunch of sweet potatoes (fork them all around, bake in the oven for about an hour or until soft), so I added a half to this dinner.

Soft polenta, sautéed spinach and shrimp, with a little roasted sweet potato. A fine meal.

Soft Polenta

Adapted from an old post, originally from Joy the Baker

Makes 4-6 servings

1 cup polenta

4 cups water

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

To finish:

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon butter

fresh ground black pepper

Place 1 cup of dried polenta in a medium sized bowl. Top with one cup cold water. Set aside.

In a medium sized sauce pan bring 1 cup of milk and remaining 3 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add salt. Slowly whisk the polenta/water mixture into the boiling milk mixture. Turn flame down to medium low. The time the polenta takes to cook will depend on weather you’re using fine grain or course polenta. However long it takes, stir occasionally until you’re reached a desired thickness.

Turn of flame and add grated parmesan cheese, Greek yogurt, and a pat of butter. Grind some black pepper over the top. Stir to incorporate.

 

Sautéed Spinach and Shrimp

makes about 4-5 servings

1 tablespoon oil (canola or olive work fine)

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound shrimp (defrosted if frozen), rinsed and patted dry

2-4 heaping handfuls of chopped spinach

salt

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook one minute more. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until lightly pink.

Add the spinach to the pan and stir until slightly wilted. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt, to taste.

Serve atop a soft bed of polenta. 

Ellie Krieger’s Warm Bulgur Salad with Grapes and Feta

3 Feb

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Even though I enjoy cooking, life is busy and sometimes, I just want a big (healthy!) plate of food in front me me without having to work too hard for it.

I’ve talked about grain-based salads before, but I always come back to them because they are an everything-in-one meal. More on them later…

Last week, I went to a book talk for Ellie Krieger’s latest cookbook, Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less. Krieger, who is very much a pragmatist, focuses on quick meals that can be prepared from chopping to eating in less than 30 minutes. During the recipe development process for the book, she even purposefully cut the onion slowly to be sure that the recipes would be within her time limit.

In the book, instead of listing “1 onion, chopped” in the ingredient list, she lists “1 onion,” and then later in the methods section, she gives directions to chop the onion. Things get prepared in the little pockets of time during the course of the recipes because that is how most people cook.

Krieger is a nutrition educator at heart, and that is what drives her personally and professionally. She sees a recipe as the perfect nutrition education tool. People want food that tastes good, and tasty food is a powerful motivator. Recipes can also bridge cultural gaps because everyone eats, and often times many cultures have similar foods prepared only slightly different (i.e. we all have some kind of taco-like dish…). Furthermore, recipes can create self-efficacy, or confidence in people when they try the recipe, they feel they can do it and they share it with friends.

It’s true! Sometimes, I am afraid to try a new recipe because it looks intimidating on the surface or I fear the new. Once I try it, though, I often like it, and then I share it with all of YOU.

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Besides being full of ideas and knowledge, Krieger is so down-to-earth and personable, and she truly loves food.

After the way she described this Warm Bulgur Salad with Grapes and Feta at the book talk, I knew I had to make it right away. The warm grain delicately wilts the spinach, and the burst of sweet grapes complement the slightly melted and salty feta cheese. What a lovely, simple salad.

Bulgur is a quick-cooking whole wheat that is often the basis for a Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad. Did you know that bulgur has twice the fiber of brown rice?! We reap different benefits and flavor profiles from different grains, so keep mixing it up! But as I always say, if you want to use another grain that you have on-hand, go for it.

Note that you can buy pre-washed spinach for this recipe. I used to think that I needed to do most of the work in the kitchen from scratch (which is I nice ideal), but sometimes “healthy shortcuts” like pre-washed greens, quick-cooking whole grains, and frozen fruits and vegetables, can make the difference between preparing dinner at home versus ordering in.

Krieger says, combining grain and vegetable in this dish does double duty as a side that pairs well with simply grilled or roasted meat or poultry. Or tossed with some walnuts, this would be a great vegetarian entree.

I know what I’m eating for lunch the next few days!

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Warm Bulgur Salad with Grapes and Feta

recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger’s Weeknight Wonders

makes 6 servings

1 cup quick-cooking or fine bulgur wheat

2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves

1 shallot (or 1/4 large red onion)

a few sprigs of fennel fronds or dill fronds (I used fresh fennel fronds and dried dill)

1 cup seedless red grapes

3 ounces feta cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 large lemon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the bulgur according to the directions on the package.

While the bulgur is cooking, chop the spinach, finely dice the shallot, and chop the fennel fronds. Place them into a large bowl. Cut the grapes into quarters, and crumble the feta cheese.

When the bulgur is done, fluff it with a fork, then add it to the bowl with the spinach and herbs. Toss well until combined, then let sit until the spinach is slightly wilted and the grain is no longer steaming, about 3 minutes. Add the oil, lemon juice, and the salt and pepper and toss until well coated. Add the grapes and feta and toss to combine.

Farro Salad with Roasted Asparagus and Overwintered Spinach

4 May

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Grain-based salads are my norm, my go-to, my default. Paired with seasonal veggies and a little protein from cheese or nuts or an egg, grain-based salads are a great dinner-to-lunch-the-next-day meal.

I work at a bakery that also carries some miscellaneous knickknacks for purchase like NYC soil, cocoa nibs, kale chips, random books on bicycles, dog toys, kombucha, and…emmer Farro from Cayuga Pure Organics! After gawking at the farro for weeks and weeks, I finally brought some home to “sample” the product.

Farro is one of those nutty grains that when cooked should be soft with a slight bite to it. Farro is typically combined with Italian or Mediterranean flavors, but you could definitely experiment. Some people even like to make a risotto using farro, or to sweeten it and call it breakfast.

I recently listened to an episode of WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Food Fridays show about grains that I found very interesting…check it out here. In that same episode, he speaks to Melissa Clark from the NYTimes Dining section about packing lunch, and she has some good words to say about farro.

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One of my nutrition professors recommended buying the overwintered greens at the farmer’s market right now. From what I’ve read, overwintered greens are super sweet and only available for a short time…right NOW! These are greens that have been planted in the fall, their shoots and leaves die off in the winter frost, but the roots remain and lend new stems emerging from the sweet roots.

I never knew about this before, and after tasting this spinach, it really is a treat.

Very anxious for spring produce, which is just barely starting to show up in the markets now, I was excited to try this overwintered spinach in combination with the first asparagus of the season. Indeed this is a transition meal, as the weather is finally starting to be consistently “nice” here in NYC.

I added some Vermont Creamery goat cheese to the salad, which I imagine would be perfect with spring strawberries (which I hope to see at the market soon…we still just have apples here in NY…), drizzled with some aged balsamic.

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Farro Salad with Roasted Asparagus and Wintered Spinach

**NOTE: if you don’t have farro, you could always substitute with Israeli couscous, orzo, quinoa, millet, rice, wild rice, wheat berries…etc.

1 cup farro, soaked in water for at least 4 hours

1 bunch asparagus

1 clove garlic

3 handfuls overwintered spinach

1 scallion or spring onion or a 1/4 shallot, thinly sliced/diced/slivered

2 oz goat cheese

extra: salt, pepper, drizzle of balsamic, dash of pesto…

Drain the water from the soaked farro. Place farro in a pot and with water to cover the farro by about an inch. Bring to a boil, and then simmer on medium-low heat for about an hour or until soft but still has a slight chew, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roast the asparagus with a small drizzle of olive oil and salt for about 15 minutes. Take out of the oven, let cool slightly, and chop on the diagonal into bite-size pieces.

Heat a skillet with a little olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 4-5 minutes.

To assemble: Combine the cooked farro, the asparagus bites, and the garlicky spinach. Toss with crumbled goat cheese, salt, pepper, balsamic, and a dash of pesto. Enjoy!

**You could also make a runny egg and top the farro with it!

(Almost) Vegan Baked Mac n’ “Cheese”

30 Sep

With a chill in the air and the leaves blowing, there is nothing like a cozy pasta dish to rear in the season. This baked pasta casserole is almost, but not exclusively, vegan.

The non-vegan part of the dish comes from using a bit of butter to make the roux, as well as some nonfat dairy milk (you could easily use vegan margarine/butter and unsweetened soy, almond, or rice milk).

I was just using up what I already had in the fridge…baby steps…

BUT, instead of cheese, I used nutritional yeast. All hail nutritional yeast. Gettin’ in some B vitamins and protein with significantly less saturated fat and cholesterol than your typical baked mac.

There’s a dash of tomato paste (I already had some in my freezer ready to go) and a bit of garlic powder, with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of agave. These flavors come together and taste just. like. cheese.

There’s also some spinach in the mix to balance this carb-tastic meal with a vegetable.

What’s that crazy-looking stuff on top? Triscuits. I had the crackers laying around and they added a great salty crunch. You could crush up any cracker you like, or you could use bread crumbs for a more classy aesthetic.

I shared a vegan mac n’ cheese recipe on the blog before, but I think this one is way better. I just prefer baked mac…creamy and crispy all in one.

You may also want to check out this Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo that I made from Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbook. I kid you not, it tastes like traditional fettuccine alfredo. Vegan magic!

Almost Vegan Baked Mac n’ “Cheese”

adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen

makes a 9 x 13 inch pans-worth

1 pound elbow macaroni (you could use whole wheat if you find a version, I also think shell-shaped would work great)

1/4 cup vegan butter/margarine (I used regular butter)

1/3 cup flour (I used all-purpose)

3 cups unsweetened soy/almond/rice milk (I used nonfat dairy milk)

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons salt

fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon agave

5 oz fresh spinach or a bunch of chard or kale

2-3 tablespoons crushed crackers or breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, make a roux by whisking the butter and flour over medium heat until the mixture forms a paste. Add the milk, and keep stirring to avoid clumps. Add the nutritional yeast, tomato paste, garlic, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer until the sauce thickens. Stir in the lemon juice and agave.

Toss the noodles with the sauce and the spinach and transfer to the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the crushed crackers or breadcrumbs on top of the pasta and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and crisp. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tip: Chloe says that the unbaked macaroni and cheese can be refrigerated for 2-3 days until ready to bake. 

The Lunch Crunch: Israeli Couscous Salad With Miso Dressing

19 May

I am no stranger to Israeli couscous salads. They are the perfect throw-together meal. Salad as an entree. Grain + veg. + protein. Check.

And after this year, I am no stranger to the wonders of white miso. I have been cooking up a miso storm this year. From satisfying miso soup with soba noodles to a cozy carrot soup with miso and sesame. From roasted veggie + tofu miso red curry smash to wild rice salads with all the fixings. And Chef Chloe has an excellent recipe in her cookbook for miso-glazed eggplant. All of these recipes are absolutely fantastic.

Israeli Couscous + Miso may not sound like they go together, but the buttery smooth rounds of couscous combine perfectly with the creamy flavor of the miso. And all those crunchy veggies, seeds, and nuts provide the texture to keep my mouth entertained.

This salad is totally vegan. It could be made gluten free if you switch out the couscous with brown or wild rice. You could still stay vegetarian and add a poached or hard-boiled egg (or cubed tofu) as an extra boost of protein to complement the salad.

Psst…did you know that radishes produce a compound shown to help support the body’s natural detoxification system? The skin is a major detox organ in the body, so the more radishes and detoxifying foods we eat, the clearer and healthier our skin will look! Get into it.

Couscous Salad

1 (~6oz) box of Israeli couscous (or any grain that you like)

2-3 large handfuls of spinach

1 bundle of radishes, cubed

1 red bell pepper, chopped fine

2-3 large carrots, chopped and cubed

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup miso dressing (see recipe below)

Make the couscous according to the directions on the box (toast the couscous in a pot, pour boiling water over it, simmer until done).

In a large bowl, combine the spinach with the chopped vegetables, pumpkin seeds, and almonds. Add the cooked couscous (I like to add the couscous when it is still warm). Toss the salad and add the dressing, a little at a time, to your liking.

Miso Dressing:

From My New Roots

makes 1/2 cup of dressing

1/4 cup light white miso

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce

Whisk all ingredients together. Leftovers can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a week.