Posts tagged ‘Spinach’

Homemade Spinach-Feta Cream Cheese


Sorry I’ve been absent a few weeks. It’s just that time of the semester, but to make up for it, I have for you a delicious recipe that will make your breakfasts sublime this week.

I love spinach-feta cream cheese. Love it! Sadly, I haven’t been able to find it anywhere in New Haven, even at the decent bagel place around the corner from my house. Always industrious, I decided to make my own, reasoning that this would solve my problem and allow me to control the quality of ingredients that I used. I found organic neufchâtel cheese at Nica’s (the little Italian market near my house) that was only slightly more expensive than the regular cream cheese, and bought a nice, sharp feta from their deli. The spinach came out of my freezer, and the pepper was a last-minute addition that adds a bit of a bite without overpowering the other flavours. In the end, this was more expensive to make than simply buying flavoured cream cheese, but it was delicious and easy to make and definitely worth it if you are (like me) without a source of premade spinach-feta cream cheese.

Spinach and Feta Cream Cheese
Makes about 2 cups

8oz. plain cream cheese or American neufchâtel cheese
1 Tbsp. water
4oz. feta cheese (about 1½ cups), crumbled
1 cup cooked spinach, chopped (from about 4 cups raw)
¼ tsp. pepper

  1. You can use thawed frozen spinach but if you are using fresh spinach, start this way: remove spinach stems, and chop the spinach finely. In a medium pot over medium heat, cook the spinach until it has reduced to about a quarter its original volume but it is still bright green. Set aside, making sure that it is completely cool before using.
  2. With an electric mixer (or a good spoon and a strong arm), beat the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy, adding water as necessary.
  3. Add spinach, feta, and pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Enjoy on bagels, crackers, or veggies (cucumber slices are especially good).

November 12, 2009 at 2:17 pm Leave a comment

Beet and Spinach Soup


It’s tempting (at least for me) to call any beet-based soup a borscht, but this one doesn’t quite fit the bill. For one thing, it is has fewer beets than a traditional borscht recipe, which allows the flavours of the other vegetables to shine through a bit more. For another, it has a great deal of spinach in it, which adds a contrasting texture and contributes to the iron content of the soup.

This is the perfect meal to make as fall sets in. Hearty and warming, it takes advantage of the winter vegetables that are starting to show up in markets and lets you enjoy a bit more spinach while it’s still around, too.

Beet and Spinach Soup
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 small onion, finely diced (about ½ cup)
1 large carrot, finely diced (about ½ cup)
2 celery ribs, finely diced (about ½ cup)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large beet, shredded (about 1 cup)
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed (or 4 cups fresh, finely chopped)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon dried dill
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
plain yogurt for garnish, optional (about 2 Tablespoons per serving)

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in 1 Tablespoon of water (or oil, if you prefer). Cook until the onions and garlic are translucent.
  2. Add beet, spinach, broth, dill, vinegar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer 10 – 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary, and serve.

October 4, 2009 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

Tacos: Rice, Beans, and Greens


These tacos represent a coming together of some of our favorite side dish recipes. The flavours in each (garlic in the spinach, cumin in the rice, rich dark beer in the beans) come together for a satisfying, complex mouthful of taco goodness.

That being said, this recipe can look a little intimidating given all of its various elements. Each of the recipes are quite easy, and I’ve included instructions for timing everything so that it takes the least effort and all comes together at the same time. If you are short on time or energy, though, you can use store-bought prepared beans (I especially like Trader Joe’s canned “Cuban Black Beans” but any brand of baked beans should work if you can’t get those). You’ll need about 2 cans.

This recipe can be easily doubled and is great for a fun, laid-back dinner party. Have your guests make their own tacos from the ingredients you’ve prepared. The different elements keep well in the fridge for about a week. Just keep them in separate containers and put tacos together whenever you want them.

Tacos: Rice, Beans, and Greens

10 small flour tortilla shells or taco shells
1 recipe cumin garlic rice (below)
1 recipe beer-stewed beans (below)
1 recipe garlic greens (below)
1 cup salsa, store-bought or homemade
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)
1 cup cheddar or monterey jack cheese, shredded (optional)
1 avocado, sliced (optional)
hot sauce to taste (optional)

  1. Put the rice on first, because it takes the longest and doesn’t need supervision.
  2. Next, work on the beans. They are better the longer they simmer. When they are done (if you aren’t), just turn the heat off and put a lid on the pot.
  3. Do the spinach last, because it doesn’t take long and it shouldn’t be over-cooked.
  4. Gather the rest of the ingredients, and put together your tacos as you eat. Enjoy!

Cumin-Garlic Rice
1 cup uncooked brown rice
2¼ cup water (or follow instructions on your rice cooker)
2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced

  1. Put all ingredients in rice cooker and cook according to manufacturer directions for 1 cup of brown rice. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can find instructions for cooking brown rice in a pot here.

Beer-Stewed Beans
(Adapted from Vegetarian 5 Ingredient Gourmet by Nava Atlas)

4 cups pinto beans or black beans or kidney beans (cooked or canned)
1 cup tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup beer (preferably a dark beer)
½ cup vegetable broth
½ cup cilantro, minced

  1. Place all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Garlic Greens
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
10 oz. fresh spinach or other greens (collards, kale, chard, bok choy, etc.)
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar or red wine vinegar or white wine

  1. In a large pot or wok, heat oil and add garlic, sauteeing until fragrant (about 2 minutes).
  2. Add spinach and vinegar or wine, and cook until spinach is bright green, and has reduced to about a quarter of its original size (about 5 minutes).

August 29, 2009 at 12:42 pm Leave a comment

Welcome-to-Spring Spinach Salad

img_6904Sometimes a salad is just a salad, but sometimes the ingredients come together and it just works. This is one such salad. The avocado mellows the red onion, and the crunch of the apples nicely balances the different crunch of the pecans. Yum!

If you want to make this salad for less than four people at once, it’s no problem. Cut out as much of the apple and avocado as you want, leaving the rest whole. Leave the pit in the avocado. Rub the surface of both with lemon juice and wrap tightly in tin foil or plastic wrap. They should keep for a day or two. Even if they brown a little bit, you should be able to cut off a small layer to find perfectly good fruit.

Welcome-to-Spring Spinach Salad
Serves 4

6 cups spinach
1 apple, diced
1 avocado, diced
½ cup red onion, finely sliced
1 cup pecans

2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. Whisk vinaigrette together in a small bowl.
  2. Chop veggies and divide them (and pecans) among four bowls.
  3. Pour dressing over salads and toss.

(Alternately, you can toss the veggies and dressing in one large bowl and serve family style).

April 16, 2009 at 2:07 pm Leave a comment

Potato & Spinach Enchiladas


Enchiladas! A perenial favorite over here, we like to use enchiladas to use up vegetables and to fill our bellies with happiness. This recipe is one of our favorites, and despite the long list of steps and the dirtying of a few pans, it’s actually really easy to make. Add to the ease with bottled enchilada sauce, if you like, although the homemade version is super-simple. This recipe could easily be doubled if you want to eat enchiladas all week long. Omit the cheese for a delicious vegan version.

Potato and Spinach Enchiladas
Serves 4

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped (about 1 small onion)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cups potatoes, cut into ½-inch dice
4½ cups fresh spinach, stems removed
or 1½ cups cooked or frozen spinach, thawed
1 Tbsp. chili powder
⅔ cup cilantro

1 cup refried beans, homemade or canned (I like Amy’s)
8 corn tortillas
1 cup Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese, divided

Enchilada Sauce
Adapted from the 1975 Joy of Cooking

1 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1½ cup tomatoes, diced
½ cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Heat tortillas in the oven while you prepare everything else. This will make them easier to work with.
  2. In a large pan, saute the onion, garlic, potatoes and chili powder in oil until onions are translucent. Add spinach and saute until spinach and potatoes are cooked through. Set aside.
  3. Then prepare the sauce. In a small pot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until fragrant. Add spices and continue to saute until onions and garlic are translucent.
  4. Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes, broth, salt, and pepper in a blender.
  5. Add the cooked onion mixture and blend again until smooth.
  6. Spread half of the sauce on the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.
  7. Then fill the tortillas. Spread 1 Tbsp. of refried beans over each, add 1 Tbsp. cheese and 2 Tbsp. potato-spinach mixture. Roll up and place in pan.
  8. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
  9. Bake 20-30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

March 28, 2009 at 1:00 pm 1 comment

Classic Spinach Lasagna


Mmmm… lasagna! Another in a long repertoire of hearty winter meals that last all week long. This recipe makes about 12 servings, but it freezes well if you don’t think you can get through all of that in one go. This is my most basic version, but I believe that it could be made vegan or gluten free with slight alterations. To veganize, try replacing the ricotta with additional tofu and omitting the mozarella. To go gluten free, try replacing the pasta with thinly sliced eggplant.

Classic Spinach Lasagna
Serves 12

1 head garlic
1½ tsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. lasagne noodles, preferably whole wheat
6 cups marinara sauce (2 – 750 ml jars)
2 cups ricotta cheese (1 pint or 500 ml)
1 cup medium-firm tofu, mashed
10 oz. spinach (thawed if frozen, stemmed and cooked if fresh)
3 roasted red peppers (1 – 16oz. jar), drained and chopped
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1½ cup mozzarella or aged white cheddar

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Cut the top off the bulb of garlic and peel away any loose layers. Rub with oil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tsp. of oil to the water to prevent the pasta from sticking. Boil about 10 minutes, or until cooked, and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, tofu, spinach, herbs and peppers.
  5. Assemble lasagne. Lightly oil a 9×13 pan. Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of the pan. Cover with noodles, and spread  with ½ the ricotta mixture, 1 cup sauce, and ½ cup mozzarella. Repeat with additional noodles, ricotta mixture, sauce and mozzarella. Cover with remaining noodles, sauce and mozzarella.
  6. Cover and bake 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake ten more minutes  to let the cheese get bubbly.

February 26, 2009 at 11:03 pm Leave a comment

Big Pot of Chili + Corn Tortillas = 2 Meals in One!


Time is getting tight around here, so when I looked into the fridge and discovered nothing for lunch and nothing for dinner, I knew I had to make something that I could eat all week for both meals without getting completely sick of whatever it was I was eating. In the end, I made a big pot of chili and then turned half of the chili into enchilada filling the next day. It worked perfectly, because I really only had to make one meal but the chili and enchiladas were different enough from each other that I didn’t feel like I was constantly eating the same thing. Of course, you can make just the chili or just the enchiladas if you would prefer. Either recipe would also freeze well for later.

This recipe works especially well if you let the chili sit in the fridge overnight before attempting enchiladas. That way, it has some time to thicken up. If you don’t want to, though, it will probably work out fine to do both recipes the same day.


This chili is another variation on my basic chili, this one designed to blend into a creamy, smooth filling for enchiladas. The addition of spinach and molasses also adds iron (and deliciousness) to the dish.

Makes 12 – 15 servings, or 6 – 8 if you use half in the enchiladas

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large yellow onions, roughly chopped (about 3 cups)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 bell peppers, seeded and roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
4 large potatoes, chopped with the skins on (about 3 cups)
1 – 28 oz. can tomatoes, with liquid
3 cups beans (you choose: pinto, black, kidney, chickpeas) (2 – 15 oz. cans, drained)
2 cups frozen spinach (or about 8 cups fresh, stemmed)
¾ cup cilantro, stemmed and chopped (optional)
1½ Tbsp. chili powder
1½ Tbsp. cumin
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses
1 cup vegetable broth

  1. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add garlic, onion and peppers, sauteeing until onions are translucent.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. (Add broth gradually and only if needed. The chili should be thick like a stew, not thin like a soup).
  3. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Serve garnished with Monterey Jack cheese (or plain yogurt) and hot sauce, if desired.



Enchiladas are always a favorite for us, with their yummy, saucy, filling goodness. If rolling enchiladas seems like too much for you, you can take the easy way out and simply layer the ingredients. Put one third of the sauce on the bottom of a large greased casserole dish, then a layer of tortillas, layer of filling (all of it), ⅓ more sauce, half of the cheese, another layer of tortillas, the rest of the sauce, the rest of the cheese – done! Then you can pretend it’s extra fancy by calling it “Enchilada Lasagna”! (This sauce is adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

Chili Enchiladas
Makes 10 Enchiladas, Serves 4 – 6 people

10 small corn tortillas
4 cups chili (recipe above)
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (optional)

Enchilada Sauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 cup tomato puree (1 large or 2 small tomatoes, blended)
½ cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, and grease a 9×13 baking pan.
  2. Start by making the enchilada sauce. In a small saucepan, heat the oil and saute the onions and garlic until translucent. Combine onions with remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Remove from saucepan and simmer until heated through and slightly thickened. Set aside.
  3. Blend chili slightly so that the liquid is thickened but the chili is still chunky. A hand blender is especially good for this but you could use a conventional blender or food processor as well. Set aside.
  4. Spoon half of the sauce into the baking pan.
  5. Now assemble the enchiladas. Add about ¼ cup of chili filling and 2 Tbsp. of cheese to each tortilla and roll it, placing it seam side down in the pan. Repeat until all the tortillas are filled.
  6. Spoon remaining sauce on enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Bake 20 – 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Omit cheese for a vegan dinner.

December 5, 2008 at 4:41 pm 2 comments

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*All entries tagged "vegan" and "gluten free" meet those dietary requirements to the best of my knowledge as long as the vegan or gluten free instructions are followed (where applicable). It is always wise to double-check ingredients (especially when dealing with packaged foods) and to confirm ingredients and preparation methods at restaurants.