Spinach with Chickpeas
This is a spanish recipe (espinaca con garbanzos) from Smitten Kitchen. It is hearty and smoky with a little kick, something you might find at a tapas bar in Spain, and yet are so glad to find you can recreate at home.
1 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound (450 grams) spinach, washed
A slice of country loaf or sandwich loaf bread, crusts removed and cut inset small cubes
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes
3/4 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika**
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon juice, to taste
Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add half the olive oil. When it is hot, add the spinach with a pinch of salt (in batches, if necessary) and stir well. Remove when the leaves are just tender, drain in a colander and set aside.
Heat 2 more tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the bread for about 5 minutes or until golden brown all over, then the remaining tablespoon of oil and the garlic, cumin and pepper. Cook for 1 minute more or until the garlic is nutty brown.
Transfer to a food processor, blender or mortar and pestle along with the vinegar, and mash to a paste. Return the mixture to the pan and add the drained chickpeas and tomato sauce. Stir until the chickpeas have absorbed the flavors and are hot. Season with salt and pepper.
If the consistency is a little thick, add some water. Add the spinach and cook until it is hot. Check for seasoning and serve with paprika on top, or on fried bread toasts.
Polenta & Greens
This is a basic modifiable recipe for polenta with greens. Serious comfort food.
?Spinach or other greens (swiss chard, braising greens, kale etc - 1/2 lb to 1 lb)
?1 large onion, chopped
?2 garlic cloves, minced
?2 tbsp olive oil
?Dash red pepper flakes?
2 carrots, halved and sliced
?Italian seasoning herbs (optional)?
Sliced shitake mushrooms (optional)
?1 c grated cheese, provolone, cheddar, fontina, even feta, as you like
1 c polenta (coarse cornmeal)
?3 c water
?1 tsp salt
?Wash and chop the greens. Saute onion, garlic, and carrots and/or mushrooms in olive oil. Season with salt, pepper & red pepper and Italian herbs. Cook until browning and fragrant. Gradually add the greens, stir frying until all are incorporated and just wilted.??
Boil water & whisk in polenta & salt. Turn down very low, watch out for sputters. Cook until thick, stirring often.
?Brush a baking dish with olive oil. Pour in about 2/3 of polenta, spoon in the greens, top with remaining polenta & cheese. Take a butter knife and swirl through the top layers a bit. Bake @ 350 until bubbly and slightly browned, about 30 minutes. Best if you allow to cool a bit before serving.
?This recipe is easily doubled, which makes a generous 10 x 14 pyrex baking dish. The polenta is easier to work with if it is poured right when it thickens. If you wait it will set up into a more solid form. Prep the vegetables and have all ingredients ready before you cook the polenta, so it will be ready at the right time, as the greens take just a few minutes.
Fair warning, spinach shrinks when it is cooked - this makes for a single serving of creamed spinach. But that is also why it's awesome. It is the perfect warm snack just for yourself.
1/2 pound fresh spinach, tough stems discarded
1/3 cups heavy cream or whole milk, or a mix thereof
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Wash your spinach well but no need to spin or pat it dry. Place spinach in a large pot over high heat. Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Press or squeeze out the excess liquid any number of ways, either by wringing it out in cheesecloth, putting it in a mesh strainer and pressing the moisture out with a spatula or large spoon or letting it cool long enough to grab small handfuls and squeezing them to remove as much water as possible. Coarsely chop the wrung-out spinach.
Wipe out large pot so you can use it again.
Heat milk or cream in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm. Keep warm. Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic, if using, in butter in your wiped-out large pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about six minutes. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, about three minutes. Add warm milk or cream in a slow stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking, until thickened, three to four minutes. Stir in nutmeg, spinach, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until heated through.
Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes and Napa Cabbage
Don't be afraid to buy ingredients you've never bought before. Soba noodles, Gochujang, edamame... You'll be buying them again in no time.
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons Korean hot-pepper paste (sometimes labeled “gochujang”)
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 1/4 pound Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (8 cups)
6 scallions, thinly sliced
8 to 9 ounces soba (buckwheat noodles)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
Stir together all sauce ingredients until brown sugar is dissolved, then set aside.
Toast sesame seeds in a dry 12-inch heavy skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat, stirring, until pale golden, then transfer to a small bowl.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then saute ginger and garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shiitakes and saute, stirring frequently, until tender and starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, then add cabbage and most of scallions (reserve about a tablespoon for garnish) and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Add sauce and simmer 2 minutes.
While cabbage is cooking, cook soba and edamame together in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until noodles are just tender, about 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cool water to stop cooking and remove excess starch, then drain well again. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with sesame seeds and vegetable mixture. Serve sprinkled with reserved scallions.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
I made stuffed cabbage for the first time last year, and couldn't believe I'd waited so long. I loved the taste (first of all), but they also make for a hearty meal, impress guests, are beautiful on the table, and are so easily served and shared. I highly recommend this recipe, even if you've never tried stuffing anything (much less cabbage) before.
3/4 – 1 lb lean ground beef or pork
2 carrots, shredded
1 cup cooked brown rice
4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated on a microplane zester
2 tablespoons ginger, finely minced or grated on a microplane zester
1 small onion, minced
3 tablespoons low sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 – 2 splashes rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chili sauce or pinch red pepper flakes, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
leaves from 1 head of Napa cabbage
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, prepare your filling by combining your beef or pork, carrots, rice, garlic, ginger, onion, tamari (or soy sauce), sesame oil, chili sauce or red pepper flakes (optional) and a pinch of salt and black pepper.
Take the leaves from your cabbage and roll with a rolling pin to make leaves more pliable. Small leaves work just as well as big ones - use two small leaves with ends overlapping before rolling up with the filling. Add filling to your leaves and tightly and carefully roll up and place side by side in a large baking dish. Pour 1 cup of water over rolls and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in your preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until completely cooked through. Serve with juices from baking dish and additional chili sauce.
Time saving tip: Prepare rolls ahead of time (without water) and refrigerate until ready for baking.
Beet, Potato, and Walnut Salad
Highly recommended for a mid-walk-in-the-snowy-woods snack. If it's a long walk, bring this salad, and sausage, and a loaf of bread. Yum.
1 1/2 pounds medium beets, scrubbed
1 1/2 pounds small potatoes, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1 to 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in top and middle. Place beets on a large piece of foil on a baking sheet. Fold foil around beets and crimp ends to form a packet. Cook beets on sheet on middle rack, 30 minutes.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange potatoes, cut side down, on sheet. After beets have cooked 30 minutes, place potatoes on top rack. Cook 15 minutes. Flip potatoes and sprinkle with walnuts (if using). Cook until walnuts are toasted, potatoes are golden, and beets are tender when pierced with a knife, 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove beets from foil and let cool. Transfer potatoes and walnuts to a large bowl. Rub beets with a paper towel to remove skin and cut each into 4 to 6 wedges, depending on size. Toss beets with potatoes, walnuts, and chives and season to taste with vinegar.
Crown Pleasing Cornbread
I make this for my family all the time, nearly weekly. The kids take it to school in lunchboxes, and it's great toasted for a snack. It's sweeter than most cornbreads, but nobody complains!
Preheat oven to 400F.
1.5 cups cornmeal
1.5 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup honey)
1 TB baking pwder
1 tsop salt
2-3 TB melted butter
1.75 cups milk (or maybe 1.5 if using honey for sweetener)
Mix together, pour into a buttered 9 x 13 pan, and bake at 400F for 20-25 mins til knife comes out clean and golden brown around edges.