Category Archives: spinach

Spinach Au Gratin

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Rich, creamy, and satisfying, this creamed spinach dish will convert even the most finicky non-vegetable eater into a Popeye who loves his leafy green vegetables.  This dish is super easy to make too and if you are pressed for time, you can even make it ahead of time, adding the Panko topping just before baking it.  I used fresh spinach but you can also substitute other sturdy green leafy vegetables as well; kale or Swiss chard would also be good.  I served this family style alongside grilled rib eye steaks but if you want a fancier presentation you can bake and serve the spinach in individual au gratin dishes.  However you serve it, this is sure to become a family favorite.

SPINACH AU GRATIN

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

3 pounds fresh spinach, chopped

1 small onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon flour

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt & pepper to taste

3/4 cup Panko crumbs

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a medium-sized ceramic casserole dish with butter and set aside.
  • In a large saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute for 2 minutes or until the onions begin to soften.
  • Add the spinach and tossing gently, cook until the spinach is wilted, 3-4 minutes.
  • Scrape the spinach mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
  • Return the pan to the heat and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.  Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and stir to combine.
  • Reduce the heat to medium.  Gradually add in the cream and whisk until the mixture is smooth and lump free.  Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken slightly.
  • Off the heat and stir in the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the sauce over the top of the spinach.
  • Melt the remaining butter in a small saute pan.  Once the butter has melted, off the heat and add the Panko crumbs.
  • Evenly distribute the crumbs over the top of the spinach and cream.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and the crumbs have browned.
  • Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Prosciutto, Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Sandwiches

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

For me, sandwiches are either a hit or miss proposition.  They can make for a satisfying lunch or light dinner, especially when paired with a salad or a bowl of soup, but they must be done right.  I love a combination of flavorful and interesting fillings but if the bread is disappointing, the entire sandwich loses its appeal.  The type of bread I like varies depending upon the filling but for hearty or messy fillings, a crusty bread is a must.

This simple sandwich uses crusty rolls but a French baguette or ciabatta rolls would work as well.  The bread is sturdy enough to absorb and contain the juices from the carmelized onions and makes the sandwich feel more substantial than it really is.  You can eat the sandwich alone or pair it with a bowl of soup.  Best of all, the sandwich is fast to make so you can be eating dinner in no time.

PROSCIUTTO, GOAT CHEESE, & CARAMELIZED ONION SANDWICHES

2 crusty rolls sliced, or the bread of your choice

2 medium-sized red onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sugar

4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature

4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced

8 baby spinach leaves

  • Place a small saute pan over medium heat.  Add the oil and heat until shimmering.
  • Add the onions, sprinkle with the sugar, and toss to coat.
  • Cook the onions for 15 to 20 minutes until they brown and caramelize, tossing occasionally and adding a small amount of water if necessary.  When they are cooked to your liking, remove them from the heat.
  • Divide the goat cheese between the two rolls and spread to coat one half of each bread.
  • Divide the onions and prosciutto evenly between the sandwiches.  Top with the spinach leaves.
  • Cut the sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

Yields:  2 sandwiches

Ham & Spinach Quiche

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Call it a cliché, but after my weekend trip to Paris I was inspired to make quiche for dinner.  Part of my inspiration came from the light and fluffy slice of quiche Glenn and I shared in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.  The other part of my inspiration came from the fact that Glenn clearly enjoyed his Paris quiche more than the one I usually make.  Needless to say, I was determined to make one he would enjoy as much, if not more.
I realized that the primary difference between my usual quiche and the one we ate this weekend was the amount of cheese.  An avid lover of all things cheese related, I tend to be heavy-handed with the amount I use.  For this quiche I lightened up and only added the thinnest layer of cheese on top of the crust.  Instead of grating the cheese I selected a good quality Swiss from the deli case and had them thinly slice the cheese. (The same results could be achieved at home with a mandolin).  I had wanted to add asparagus as my vegetable but opted for fresh baby spinach since it’s appearance beat out that of the limp looking asparagus.  I threw in a bit of leftover ham to please my meat loving boys but you could omit that and turn the dish into a vegetarian option.  The spinach was bright and flavorful, the custard silky smooth, and the ham added a touch of sweet and salty.  Our dinner table might not have provided the same atmosphere as our bistro table in Paris, but I do think this quiche could give our Parisian version a run for its money.
HAM & SPINACH QUICHE
1 deep dish pie crust
4 ounces diced cooked ham (I used leftover brown sugar baked spiral cut)
2 ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheese
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, minced
8 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 cups whole milk
5 eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
pinch dried mustard powder
salt and pepper to taste
Paprika
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Prepare the crust of your choice.  Roll out the crust to fit a 10 inch deep dish pie crust.
  • Place the cheese slices over the bottom of the pie crust. 
  • Heat half of the olive oil in a small medium skillet over medium-high heat.   Chop the spinach and add to the pan.  Toss continually and cook until the spinach is just wilted.  Spread evenly over the top of the cheese.
  • Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet. Add the minced onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cooked ham, toss to coat with oil, and cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.  Sprinkle the ham and onion mixture evenly over the top of the spinach.
  • Combine the milk, eggs, flour, dried mustard, and salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Using a stick blender, blend the mixture until smooth and the flour is thoroughly incorporated into the liquids.
  • Pour the custard over the top of the ham and onions.  Sprinkle with paprika.  
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center of the quiche is clean.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

Mediterranean Vegetable Bread

Like so many cooks I find recipes that inspire me and then tweak them to my own liking.  I’m also an avid reader of cooking blogs and my favorite, Adventures of the Yankee Kitchen Ninja, regularly posts recipes that intrigue and inspire me.  (It doesn’t hurt that this blog is also written by a fellow Mount Holyoke alum).

The Kitchen Ninja posted this recipe as a savory olive bread after having tweaked it herself from Susan Hermann Loomis, author of On Rue Tatin.  See, this is how recipes evolve!  The Kitchen Ninja’s recipe called for 3 1/2 cups of fresh spinach.  Try as I might, I could not find any fresh spinach, or any suitable substitute in Albania in November.  I used a small amount of frozen spinach instead and added in shredded carrots for bulk.  I also added fresh chopped basil.  The only jarred roasted red peppers I had in my pantry were marinated so I used those instead of the plain variety.  The result?  A tangy vegetable infused bread the blended together my favorite flavors of the Mediterranean.

MEDITERRANEAN VEGETABLE BREAD
 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves,  minced
1 cup frozen spinach, chopped and squeezed dry with leaves separated
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
1 cup marinated roasted red peppers, chopped
1 heaping cup black olives, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F / 200 degrees C.  Grease a loaf pan and set aside.
2)  Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
3)  In another large bowl, beat the eggs; whisk in the olive oil, then stir in the garlic, spinach, carrots,
      and basil.

4)  Add the flour  mixture and stir until well combined.  Fold in the red peppers, olives,

      black pepper, and cheese.

 

4)  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes, until the bread is browned and a
     skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then
     continue cooling on a wire rack.

 

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