Posts tagged ‘spinach’

July 9, 2012

Warm White Bean, Spinach and Herb Salad with Sumac

It’s Monday. How you livin’?

I’m living slow… Living like the biggest thing I accomplished yesterday was finishing season 2 of Downton Abbey (dang, WWI was an emotional roller coaster!) Living like I was so lazy yesterday that it’s taken the majority of my Monday to pull me out of my laziness slump and get my shizzle together.

I’m getting there.

Real talk: inspiration has been escaping me lately – in writing and in food. I’ve been doing my very best to work through it, but other things have been majorly clouding my head. Important things. Real life things.

But it’s time to get back on track!

Where to turn when I need to look at my crisper drawer with fresh eyes? To the badass vegetable master himself, Yotam Ottolenghi. Half an hour flipping through Plenty can work wonders – with beautiful photos and some fearless veggie cooking, I’m feeling the spark again already.

Warm White Bean, Spinach and Herb Salad with Sumac
inspired by Ottolenghi’s Plenty

- 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (or 1-14oz./400-gram can), rinsed and drained
- olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or minced on a microplane
- 4 spring onions or scallions thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 3 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro/coriander
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2-1 tablespoon sumac
- salt & pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over a medium-high heat in a large pan. Add white beans and cook for 4 minutes, stirring only once or twice allowing them to turn golden in places.

Stir in garlic, scallions, chili flakes, spinach and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally – allowing spinach to wilt down. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.

Top with parsley, coriander and feta. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil, lemon juice and sprinkle with sumac. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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June 20, 2012

Vegetarian Pho

Are you a pho addict yet? I didn’t know about this brothy Vietnamese soup until a couple of years ago, but once I did I was hooked. HOOKED I tell you!

Most commonly you see it made with thinly shaved raw beef that’s cooked by the heat of the broth and ladled over rice noodles. You’re given mix-ins like bean sprouts, lime, basil and chilli on the side that you can add at your own discretion. Interactive food! You know I love that.

But it’s often hard to find vegetarian-friendly versions of pho in restaurants. Luckily, you can make this aromatic broth at home pretty easily and load it up with all the veggies you want.

My version used a heap of mushrooms and spinach, as well as soba noodles in the place of the rice noodles. Traditional? Not all all. Vegetable-packed, slightly spicy, aniseedy pho-like goodness? Yessir.

You can easily make this broth non-vegetarian by using beef or chicken broth and fish sauce. I personally prefer the fish sauce here instead of soy sauce, but it’s up to you. You could also add cooked shredded chicken or prawns.

Vegetarian Pho Broth (serves 4)
adapted very slightly from The Kitchn

- 1 large onion, peeled and halved
- 4-inch/10-cm piece fresh ginger root, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 2 3-inch/7.5-cm cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 4 cloves
- 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 8 cups vegetable stock (or stock of you choice)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or fish sauce)
- 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

Char onion and ginger directly under a broiler until slightly blackened, about 5 minutes on each side. Rinse with water.

In a large pot, dry roast cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and coriander over medium-low heat, stirring to prevent burning. When spices are aromatic (about 2 minutes), add vegetable stock, soy sauce, carrots, and charred onion and ginger.

Bring broth to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Strain and keep hot until ready to serve.

Vegetarian Pho
- soba noodles (or rice noodles)
- 3 cups mushrooms
- 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped

Toppings
- finely chopped chilies
- finely chopped green onion
- bean sprouts
- basil
- mint
- cilantro
- sriracha

Prepare noodles ahead. For soba noodles, cook in boiling water for about 4 minutes (according to package) strain and portion into bowls. If using rice noodles, soak in boiling water for approximately 20 minutes or according to package instructions. Pour broth over the noodles when you’re ready to serve.

I added sliced mushrooms to my finished broth and cooked covered for about 10 minutes until tender, adding the spinach in the last minute or two. Serve hot with desired toppings.

April 19, 2012

Spicy Coconut and Lentil Soup

It’s been a grey and rainy week. I’ve been caught in the rain three mornings in a row trying to go for a run. My umbrella’s all bent out of shape. I don’t want to leave the house.

What’s your favorite rainy evening ritual? Mine looks like sweat pants, bad tv (wuttup Revenge), a glass of red and a curry.

I don’t love the rain, but I don’t mind the excuse it gives me to get cozy, make something warm, and treat myself right.

I was impressed with this recipe for 2 reasons:
It develops a rich Thai flavor in less than a half an hour – if you’re craving a Thai red curry, this is probably a quicker bet than delivery.
It’s also easily adaptable for whatever vegetables you have at home. Asian veggies like bok choy, baby corn and snow peas are all at home here, but mushrooms, green beans, carrots, spinach and even sweet potato are all welcome too.

Spicy Coconut and Lentil Soup
adapted from Donna Hay’s Off the Shelf
(makes 4 serves)

- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste
- 4 spring onions, light green and white parts thinly chopped
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups coconut cream
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 cup snow peas, trimmed and sliced in half
- 2 cups spinach, chopped

Heat the oil and curry paste in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat and cook for 2 minutes. Add in spring onions and cook 1 minute.

Add stock, coconut cream and lentils and cook for 10 minutes.

Add mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes. Add snow peas and cover, simmering for 2 more minutes.

Stir in spinach and let it wilt down. Serve hot with rice or grilled flat bread.

January 18, 2012

Crunchy, Savory and Sweet Spinach Salad

Truth: I eat a lot of salads.
Falsehood: All salads are delicious.
Truth: Honey mustard is a wonderful invention.
Falsehood: I eat salads just because they’re good for me.
Truth: Salads can be downright awesome with the perfect combination of textures, sweetness and salt.
Falsehood: Crispy apples, crunchy toasted walnuts, mellow chickpeas and caramelized shallots drizzled with honey mustard just don’t work together. (SO FALSE.)
Truth: I love tawdry historical fiction dramas with a strong female protagonist. …which is totally besides the point, I’m sorry. (Not sorry.)

I also love everything about this salad – the combination of the apple, raisins and honey mustard almost make it a dessert, while the spinach, walnuts and chickpeas bring it back to lunchtime. And the caramelized shallots – they’re just there for a dash of sex appeal.

The Ultimate Spinach Salad
(makes 2 meal-sized servings)

- A few large handfuls of spinach (Baby spinach works well. I had English spinach so I cut the leaves into small ribbons.)
- 1 cup of cooked chickpeas, rinsed well
- 1 apple, sliced thin (I used a gala apple)
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
- 2 tablespoons of toasted walnuts
- 1 shallot, sliced thin
- 2-3 tablespoons of honey mustard dressing (see below)
- salt&pepper, to taste

To toast walnuts: place nuts in a dry skillet over a medium heat, tossing occasionally until slightly browned and fragrant (3-5 minutes).

To caramelize shallots: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over a medium heat. Add the shallot slices and a dash off salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. They should become dark brown in color without burning.

Place all your ingredients (besides the dressing) in a large bow. Add the dressing slowly, tossing as you go. Serve immediately.

Honey Mustard Dressing
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 2 teaspoons of mustard (I used 1 teaspoon of wholegrain and 1 teaspoon of Dijon)
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar

Place ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake well.

November 2, 2011

risotto, an old favorite


Risotto was one of the first “real” dishes I learned when I began teaching myself to cook (an ongoing process, clearly.) At the time I was excited that it actually worked, and thought it looked quite impressive for such an amateur .

Since then I have made many a risotto – not all have been perfect, but I still get a little sense of accomplishment when it’s completed. I chopped, I stirred,  I ladled, I seasoned, I stirred some more – and there it is: a creamy, oozy bowl of starchy vegetable-flavored goodness.

What I like about a risotto is that it is easily adaptable to different vegetables and thus, seasons.  And that it sounds more difficult to make than it actually is.

The risotto I made yesterday incorporated dried porcini mushrooms, which I  had never cooked with before. They were easy to prepare: just pour boiling water over desired amount of mushrooms and let stand covered for 5-10 minutes. I poured about 1.5 liters of water over my mushrooms in order to make a broth/stock to stir into my rice instead of chicken or vegetable stock.

Mushroom and Spinach Risotto (serves 2 main-sized portions)
- Small knob of butter
- 1 cup mushrooms chopped (I used my revived porcini and some white button)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 (I used 3) cloves of garlic, chopped
- 4 sprigs of thyme, picked
- 1 cup risotto rice like arborio. (I only had brown rice in the house, which works but requires double the stirring time.)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1.5 liters mushroom/chicken/vegetable/beef stock, more as needed
- 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, more to serve  (yesterday I only used 1/4 a cup and added a tablespoon of cream cheese because I was worried about the brown rice being too sticky. The cream cheese made everything a little silkier.)

1. Bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
2. Saute mushrooms in butter with half of the thyme in a large pan for 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
3. In the same pan, at a medium-high heat warm olive oil and saute onion and garlic for about 3 minutes.
4.  Add dry rice to the pan, stir to coat the rice grains in olive oil mixture. Cook for 1 minute.
5. Pour in white wine and let alcohol boil off.
6. When the pan is beginning to look a little dry, add a ladleful of the stock and stir. Bring the heat down to a simmer.
7. Continue adding more stock by the ladleful as the liquid decreases, stirring to incorporate. (I don’t feel the need to be an obsessive stirrer, but I give it a fair amount of attention, just to make sure all the rice grains are getting enough liquid and heat.)
8. Continue the ladling/stirring business for about 20 minutes or until al dente. (Unfortunately the brown rice took about 45 minutes for similar results.)
9. Add mushrooms, chopped spinach and the rest of the thyme. Cook for 5 minutes, adding more liquid if needed.
10. Stir in cheese and serve with more grated cheese on top.


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