Gourmet Veggie Mama

Tag Archives: Spinach

Creamy Parmesan and Spinach Orzo

Here’s the deal with dinner lately: I don’t really cook it. It’s not that we don’t eat dinner at home… it’s just that the way our family life works right now sort of preludes me from being the primary chef at dinnertime.

Amelia has an early bedtime, so I have to start her bath at 5:45, do her bedtime routine (which includes nursing, so it’s my job) and then she’s down by 6:30 most nights. Nora, however, doesn’t go to bed until around 8 pm. We used to eat dinner at 6 and then play outside for a little while afterward, but since we like to eat together as a family,* we had to switch it up a bit. At first, we tried eating before I started Amelia’s bath, but it ended up being too early for everyone but her… and she was always on the verge of meltdown that close to bedtime, so it wasn’t working out. Our current solution is to eat at about 6:45, so I have time to put Amelia to bed and everyone can sit down together without throwing off Nora’s bath-and-bedtime routine.

*Well, minus the not-yet-eating-solids member of our crew.

Of course, if you do the math, that usually means someone other than me has to cook dinner, or at the very least do the final steps and get dinner ready to go on the table. And that means that the hubby has been primarily in charge of dinner lately. Sometimes I make the meal plan for the week, and other times we just wing it. Truth be told, I am still a little sleep deprived and unmotivated, so winging it wins out more often than it probably should. Thank goodness for Trader Joe’s freezer meals!

Anyhow, blah, blah, blah, get to the good stuff. I made a delicious dinner the other night (on one of my more motivated days) — and I accomplished it by prepping everything ahead of time (while the babe was napping), and then having the hubby finish it off right before we sat down to eat. This recipe for parmesan and spinach orzo has been floating around Pinterest, and I decided it sounded like a perfect weeknight meal — with some slight modifications, of course. Otherwise, I just wouldn’t be me.

spinach and parm orzo-001

 

I had high hopes for this one, and it did not disappoint. My only regret is that I really thought Nora would love it — and she did, for a few minutes. She chowed down until she realized that there was green stuff in it, and then proceeded to tell me she didn’t like “the kale.” Everything green is kale nowadays, and despite the fact that I have photographic evidence of her former love of actual kale, nothing can convince her that it isn’t gross. Plus, there were onions. Although basically undetectable to the adult palate (except for the lovely flavor they add), there were in fact onions in this dish, and that was apparently unacceptable. Sigh.

Regardless, the hubby and I scarfed ours down, and finished off her leftovers, too. Her loss, our gain!

Creamy Parmesan and Spinach Orzo
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 cups spinach, packed, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, and add the orzo. Cook until al dente, according to package directions (around 8 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat in another saucepan.* Saute the onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the flour to the onion and garlic mixture, and stir to coat. Gradually add the milk, whisking to eliminate any lumps. Heat, stirring, until bubbly and thickened, 5-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.**
  4. Stir in the parmesan and spinach and heat until the cheese is incorporated into the sauce and the spinach is wilted.
  5. Add the orzo to the sauce and stir to combine. Serve immediately.
Notes
* Or, if you're like me and prefer to minimize the mess, cook the pasta first, drain it in a colander, and then wipe out the same pan to use for the sauce.

** If you're making this ahead, you can stop at this step, and refrigerate the pasta and sauce separately (keeping the sauce in the saucepan for simplicity's sake). When you're ready for dinner, gently reheat the sauce on the stovetop, and then proceed with the recipe.

 

Spinach and Artichoke Pasta with Fresh Ricotta

Not long ago, I made a meal (this fantastic baked ziti) for a friend who just had a baby. Several people did this for me when Amelia was born, and I like to pay it forward. Having a newborn is a hard gig! However, I am still a little sleep deprived myself, so while I was making the ricotta cheese for two batches of baked ziti, I had a math fail. Long story short, I ended up with twice as much ricotta as I actually needed.

But, hey, that’s definitely not a bad problem to have. I pondered what to do with the extra, and landed on a quick and easy meal of spinach and artichoke pasta. Since we have plenty of spinach growing in our garden these days, it was easy to pop outside and pick some, sauté it, combine it with some chopped marinated artichoke hearts, the ricotta and a little cream, and toss it with pasta. Voila! Dinner is served.

spinach ricotta pasta

I do like my pasta pretty saucy, and this is no exception — so if you like yours with more pasta than other stuff, well, just make more pasta.

Spinach and Artichoke Pasta with Fresh Ricotta
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz spaghetti or angel hair pasta
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh spinach, chopped roughly
  • 1 12-oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese, preferably homemade (recipe follows)
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook pasta until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted.
  3. Lower the heat and add the artichoke hearts, ricotta cheese (breaking into smaller chunks with spoon) and cream. Stir over low heat until warm, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Stir in the pasta. Serve warm topped with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Homemade Ricotta
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups whole milk (preferably organic, pastured milk)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Fold a length of cheesecloth so that it's four sheets thick, and set it in a colander in the sink.
  2. Bring the milk, buttermilk and cream to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Keep watch over the mixture, stirring occasionally, until you see the curds start to separate. When this happens, turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon to scoop the curds into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Keep scooping under all you've got left is a light-yellowish liquid (whey).
  3. Sprinkle the cheese with a little kosher salt and let it drain for about 5 minutes. Use immediately, or store in the fridge in an airtight container.

 

Dal with Spinach and Radishes

Ah, yes. Another clean-out-the-fridge meal. I like to use spinach quickly, since it’s so nice when it’s fresh, and radishes always stump me. Did I make a salad, you ask? Nah. I made dal.

Spinach dal

The lentils, along with onions, spinach, radishes (yes, cooked — they add a little spiciness) and seasonings, served with brown rice, made a complete meal. I know cooking radishes sounds a little weird, but they really do pair well with Indian spices, and in some parts of India, radishes are cooked traditionally, often in dal.

Dal with Spinach and Radishes
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup green lentils, rinsed well
  • 2 Tbsp ghee (or a neutral oil like canola)
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced thinly
  • 1½ tsp turmeric
  • 1½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp salt, plus additional to taste
  • 4-5 small radishes, sliced thinly
  • 1 bunch spinach, tough stems removed and leaves roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
Instructions
  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan and add the lentils. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until tender, 25-35 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the ghee over medium-high heat and saute the onions until softened and translucent. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to stir until they are light golden brown.
  3. Stir the turmeric, cumin, cayenne and 1 tsp salt in the with the onions. Add the radishes and the spinach, working in batches and adding more as the spinach wilts.
  4. When the spinach is wilted but still bright green and the lentils are cooked, add the onion mixture to the lentil mixture and cook for a few additional minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Serve with rice and enjoy!

 

Grilled Pizzas with Spinach and Ricotta

I love making my own ricotta. I know it sounds nuts, but (as I have gone over ad nauseum by this point) it really is ridiculously easy, and so very much better than store-bought. It’s just a matter of bringing some milk (with a little buttermilk and cream added) to a boil, watching it separate into curds, and then scooping out the cheese. Voila!

ricotta

The other night, I made a batch of ricotta intending to serve it along with spinach and a light cream sauce on pasta, but I changed plans at the last minute. It was a ridiculously gorgeous day, and it seemed almost a crime not to fire up the grill. We had some frozen pizza dough ready to be quick-thawed and used, so I conscripted the hubby as soon as he got home to roll out the dough and grill some pizza crusts.

I sautéed some spinach and sliced some fresh local mozzarella from Full Quiver Farm. We topped hubby’s signature herb-garlic crust with the spinach, mozzarella and a few dollops of ricotta,  and threw it back on the grill to finish cooking. A sprinkle of crushed red pepper sealed the deal.

spinach pizza

It was so good we repeated the whole thing a few nights later, when my in-laws were in town to visit. In place of the spinach, though, we had delicate broccoli fresh from our garden, and we added caramelized onions (always a favorite).

The spinach, mozzarella and ricotta, though, was a classic, and one that we’ll definitely be repeating around here. I’m going to give you the recipe for the whole darn thing, from pizza dough to ricotta, so hang on to your hats!

Grilled Pizzas with Spinach and Ricotta
Author: 
Recipe type: pizza, cheese
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
For pizza crusts (based on a recipe from The Cook's Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue):
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 4 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting hands and work surfaces
  • 1 envelope (2¼ tsp) instant yeast
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1¾ cups warm water (110°)
For the ricotta:
  • 4 cups whole milk (preferably organic, pastured milk)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
For toppings:
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus additional for the pizza crusts
  • 1 bunch spinach, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • Fleur de sel or kosher salt, to taste
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • crushed red pepper, to taste
Instructions
Prepare the dough (see my pizza dough tutorial for step-by-step instructions and photos):
  1. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary and saute briefly, until fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. Place the flour, yeast, salt and garlic-rosemary mixture in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix briefly to combine on low speed. Slowly add the water and continue to mix on low speed until a cohesive mass forms.
  3. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled deep bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour to an hour and a half.
  5. Press the dough down with your fist and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to divide the dough into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a smooth, round ball and cover them with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 5 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes.
  6. Working with one ball of dough at a time and keeping the others covered, flatten the dough ball into a disk using the palms of your hands. Starting at the center of the disk and working outward, use your fingertips to press the dough into a round about ½-inch thick.
  7. Use one hand to hold the dough in place and the other to stretch the dough outward. Rotate a quarter-turn and stretch the dough again. Continue turning and stretching until the dough will not stretch any further. It should be about ¼-inch thick. Use the flat of your palm to press down and flatten any thick edges.
  8. Transfer the dough rounds to lightly floured baking sheets, and cover with a damp cloth until ready to use.
For the ricotta (see [url:1]this tutorial[/url] for more information):
  1. Fold a length of cheesecloth so that it's four sheets thick, and set it in a colander in the sink.
  2. Bring the milk, buttermilk and cream to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Keep watch over the mixture, stirring occasionally, until you see the curds start to separate. When this happens, turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon to scoop the curds into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Keep scooping under all you've got left is a light-yellowish liquid (whey).
  3. Sprinkle the cheese with a little kosher salt and let it drain for about 5 minutes. Use immediately, or store in the fridge in an airtight container.
For the pizzas:
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet, and add the spinach. Saute until wilted but still bright green. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Sprinkle the top of each prepared crust with olive oil and kosher salt, and, using your hand, quickly flip the crust onto the grill. Cook on one side for 5-8 minutes. Move once in the first 30 seconds or so to make sure it doesn’t stick to the grill, and stab a few times with a fork once bubbles start to appear. Turn over and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Top the fully-cooked side of each pizza crust with a couple of mozzarella slices, spinach and a few dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, if desired.
  4. Grill the pizzas until the cheese is melted and the bottom of the crust is done, about 5 minutes. Slice and serve warm.

 

 

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Cracked Pepper and Parmesan

Spaghetti with cracked pepper and parmesan is one of my go-to weeknight meals when everything else falls through and I need to get dinner together in 20 minutes. I can throw it together with stuff I have on hand, and it’s always delicious.

pasta with cracked pepper

Make sure to use good-quality parmesan, since that’s where the flavor comes from. I like whole wheat pasta not only because of the nutritional content, but also because it has a heartier, nuttier flavor that holds its own in this dish. I served it the other night with a quick salad of wilted spinach, avocado and some balsamic vinaigrette.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Avocado and Balsamic Vinaigrette

And that was that! It was a delicious weeknight meal with a minimum of fuss. That’s just how I roll.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Cracked Pepper and Parmesan
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ½ lb whole wheat spaghetti
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper and kosher salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta water.
  2. Toss the warm pasta with the parmesan, olive oil, a generous dose of pepper and salt and a splash of the pasta water.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more pasta water if needed. Serve and enjoy!

Spinach and Ricotta Skillet Lasagna

Lasagna is great, but it can be time-consuming. Which is why, when I was short on time the other day, I decided to scrap my plans for a traditional lasagna and take it to the stovetop.

skillet lasagna stovetop

After simmering some broken lasagna noodles in vegetable broth, I stirred in some fresh chopped spinach, tomato sauce, spices and ricotta cheese, and topped the whole thing off with a healthy layer of mozzarella and parmesan. Once it was nice and melty, it was dinnertime.

Spinach and ricotta skillet lasagna

The skillet lasagna was delicious, an the whole thing couldn’t have taken more than 30 minutes, start to finish. I had made make my own ricotta earlier in the day, but that hardly takes any effort, and it tastes so very much better than store-bought. Nora would have been satisfied just eating spoonful after spoonful of the warm fresh ricotta, but I cut her off so we’d have some left for dinner.

She gave the lasagna a good review (as did the hubby and I), although she was more interested in just the plain lasagna noodles than anything else.

skillet lasagna nora

Maybe some of those spinach nutrients got absorbed in there somehow… right? Right.

Spinach and Ricotta Skillet Lasagna
Author: 
Recipe type: Weeknight meals
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 10 lasagna noodles (preferably whole wheat)
  • one large bunch fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 15 oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 3 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (about one batch homemade)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ shredded parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a large skillet. Add the lasagna noodles, breaking them into bite-size pieces, and cook then for 8 minutes (or until about 2 minutes before done).
  2. Add the spinach and lower the heat. Stir until wilted, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, spices and crushed tomatoes, stir well, and bring to a simmer once again. Simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Lower the heat and stir in the ricotta cheese and stir until warm. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and parmesan and heat, without stirring, until the cheese begins to melt. Remove from the heat and serve warm.

Chickpeas and Spinach with Garlic Aioli

The headline here is, I made my own mayonnaise! Subhead: It was so simple and delicious I wondered why I don’t do it all the time. Seriously. If you own a blender and typically keep eggs and olive oil around your house, there is no reason you shouldn’t be making your own, too!

But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. This story starts back when I began soaking a pound of chickpeas. I put them in to soak overnight and figured I’d magically know what to do with the the next morning. Turns out, I didn’t. So, I put them in the fridge and made something else for dinner. The next day came along, and I planned on making Economical Eater’s delicious-looking chickpea curry, but I didn’t get my stuff together in time to make a crockpot meal… so, again, the chickpeas languished in the fridge. Finally, on the third day, I decided I just needed to wing it. I drained the chickpeas from their soaking liquid, covered them with new water, and started cooking them while flipping through my go-to resource for all things bean-related (and more): Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

Once again, it did not disappoint. I turned up several delectable chickpea recipes, including one for chickpea and spinach stew. We had just gotten a bunch of fresh spinach and a bunch of fresh parsley in our CSA box, so it was perfect. The recipe called for the spiced chickpeas to be served over a bed of rice or another grain (I used quinoa) and, oddly, a dollop of garlic mayonnaise as a topping.

Chickpeas and Spinach with Garlic Aioli

Apparently, aioli is a common topping for chickpeas in the Middle East, so I guess it’s legit — but somehow, topping your dinner off with a healthy dollop of mayo seems decadent. Decadent, but oh-so-tasty.

This is not the mayonnaise you’re used to, though. It’s lighter and more flavorful and delicious than anything you’ve seen on your grocery store shelves, and, better yet, it’s super-easy to make. I’ve made mayonnaise before, but I did it by hand and it was a tedious process, and not one I’d be likely to undertake often. Using the blender makes it a snap, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to store-bought!

Chickpeas and Spinach with Garlic Aioli
Author: 
Recipe type: Weeknight Meal
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 pinches crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried rosemary (minced if fresh)
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 15-oz cans, rinsed well)
  • 1 large bunch fresh spinach, stems removed
  • garlic aioli for topping (optional but highly recommended)
Garlic Aioli
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch salt
  • ¾ cup neutral-flavored olive oil, divided
  • 2-3 tsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, paprika, rosemary and half the parsley. Sauté until the onions are translucent, and then lower the heat to medium and cook until the onion is soft, about 10-12 minutes.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes, chickpeas and spinach and stir to combine. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and the chickpeas are heated through, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve over a bed of quinoa, rice or other grains topped with a dollop of garlic aoili and a sprinkle of parsley.
For the garlic aioli
  1. Crack the egg into a blender. Add the Dijon mustard, salt and ¼ cup olive oil. Turn on the blender and slowly stream the remaining olive oil in while the blender is running. Add 2 tsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar and the garlic. Turn off the blender and test the mixture. Thin with additional lemon juice or vinegar if needed.

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The Peaceful Mom

Quinoa “Fried Rice”

Sometimes Pinterest can be an amazing thing.* The other day I came across a recipe for quinoa “fried rice,” and I knew I had to give it a try. I love quinoa, and it’s such a great sub for rice in this dish, plus it’s another of those “kitchen sink” recipes I love — you can basically throw whatever veggies you have on hand in it.

* Other times it can make you feel like a failure for not doing 57 crafts a week with your kids and making your own pillowcases, but I digress.

Now, the surprising part about this is that I hated fried rice as a kid. Loathed it. My parents would make it for dinner once every couple of weeks (or at least it felt that often), and I could barely bring myself to take a bite. Now, my taste buds have matured a little bit, sure, but I do think this version is helped along by several factors, including the quinoa-for-rice substitution (it’s lighter and fluffier), fresh veggies instead of frozen,** and frying the eggs omelet-style and then dicing them instead of just throwing them in with the rice to scramble. And Sriracha, because that stuff is just awesome on everything vaguely Asian-ish.

** Oh, those frozen stir-fry veggies, how I loathed them! I think a big part of the issue is that there was always bell pepper in there, and I am just not a fan. Sorry Mom and Dad, you know I love you! I must have been absolutely insufferable on the fried rice issue. I’m sure I’ll get my comeuppance eventually.

I took the recipe for a spin the other night, liberally adapting it to what I had on hand and adding some crispy fried tofu on top for extra protein.

quinoa bowl

Goooood stuff.

This is definitely a meal that has earned a place in our weeknight rotation! It’s certainly a nice change of pace from stir fry.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Quinoa "Fried Rice"
Author: 
Cuisine: Asian
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbs canola oil, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups spinach, packed, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 4-5 scallions, sliced
  • Crispy fried tofu (optional)
  • Sriracha, for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil over medium heat in a small nonstick pan. Scramble the eggs in a small bowl and pour into the pan. Cook without stirring until the top begins to set, about 3-4 minutes, then flip over and cook the other side for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and cool, then dice and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute more, stirring, and then add the broccoli, carrots and spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted and the other vegetables are just becoming tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the soy sauce and ginger and stir to coat.
  5. Stir in the quinoa, diced egg and scallions, and stir until warm.
  6. Serve topped with crispy fried tofu, if desired, and Sriracha to taste.

 

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The Peaceful Mom

Wilted spinach salad with manchego and avocado

I was tired of always doing the same old thing with spinach. I usually use it as a cooking green, but I felt like something different this weekend. So, while I went out for an evening run on Brushy Creek Trail (which is beautiful, by the way), I asked the hubby to see if he could come up with a creative new use of the spinach we had just received from our new CSA.

He got creative, indeed, and the results were excellent. He simply wilted the chopped spinach in a little olive oil, and served it as a salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and topped with cubed manchego and avocado.

Well done, sir.

Served with a quick stovetop mac and cheese whipped up my your truly, this was a great side dish.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Manchego and Avocado

1 bunch spinach, coarse stems removed and chopped
2 oz manchego, cubed
1 avocado, cubed
balsamic vinegar to taste

Heat a dash of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the spinach and stir briefly, until just wilted. Divide between two plates.

Add half the manchego and half the avocado to each of the plates. Dress to taste with good-quality balsamic vinegar. Serve and enjoy!

Spinach and mushroom enchiladas

I was perusing one of my favorite cookbooks (Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) for menu ideas, and I happened on a recipe for mushroom enchiladas. Given the hubby’s newfound receptivity to mushroom-centric cuisine, and our lack of CSA veggies at the time, I decided to pencil it in.

Our first CSA delivery came last Friday, and the box contained a beautiful bunch of spinach, along with a couple of other types of greens (which I am currently holding in reserve for other projects). So, I thought, why not spinach and mushroom enchiladas?

Good call.

I didn’t even end up glancing at the original recipe I had chosen, so this recipe is truly winging it. I also used *gasp* packaged enchilada sauce. Normally I would pull some of my own hatch green chile sauce out of the freezer, but that wasn’t an option this time. So, Frontera it was, and I was actually really impressed.

Good stuff.

The hubby couldn’t believe it wasn’t freshly made sauce. I’d highly recommend it if you’re pressed for time.

Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz brown mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 bunch spinach, stemmed and roughly chopped.
2 Tbs olive oil
6 corn tortillas
canola oil for frying
1 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
enchilada sauce of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350. Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and stir until they begin to release their juices. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Remove from heat and cool, and then drain and press out any extra moisture.* Stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese.

Fill the bottom of a small skillet with a generous amount of canola oil (1/4-1/2 inch deep) and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, carefully add the first tortilla with tongs. Fry briefly, just to soften, and then remove to a plate covered with paper towels to drain. When cool enough to handle (but still warm), fill the center of the tortilla with the mushroom and spinach mixture, roll, and place in a lightly oiled enchilada pan. Repeat with the other tortillas.

Pour the sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Serve with sour cream.

* No need to go crazy here. You just want to make sure the mixture doesn’t make the tortillas soggy. I drained mine over the sink and used a couple of paper towels to blot a bit.

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