Tag Archives: spinach

Recipe: Pasta with Chickpeas and Greens

This is a recipe I made way back in August after being given a big bunch of broad bean leaves  – I didn’t even know they were edible.  It’s a nice, simple, wholesome dinner recipe, good for Boxing Day, when you just want something plain and not too rich and reasonably healthy to eat.

You can use any greens you have in the garden – wild greens, tromboncino zucchini greens, Warrigal greens, silverbeet – whatever.  Or you can use supermarket greens.  120g is a standard packet size for a lot of things like rocket and baby spinach.  Just get a good mix – 2-3 big bunches worth – chop them roughly and off you go.

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olive oil
4 garlic cloves (I mean it!)
1 tbsp chilli flakes (I mean that, too!)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp italian herbs (or just oregano)
salt, pepper
120 g baby kale
120 g baby spinach
1 bunch broad bean leaves
400 g chickpeas, tinned (drain and use the water for meringues!)
300 g pasta
80 g pine nuts
parmesan to serve

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Recipe: Winter Tuna Salad with Fennel, Orange and Hazelnuts

I love salads, but it feels weird to buy tomatoes and capsicums and cucumbers and other summer vegetables when it’s freezing cold outside and probably pouring with rain, too.  So as the year changes, I start swapping out my summer greens and vegetables for more wintry fare – red cabbage, apples, celery, citrus fruits, fennel, kale, and lots of nuts and legumes.

This is a recent lunchbox favourite of mine, making the most of the cooler weather and the beautiful things that are in season even now, when the idea of getting out into the garden isn’t terribly inviting.  I think I even prefer this to my summer tuna salad – I like the acidity of the orange and the earthy flavour of the hazelnuts and chickpeas, and even fennel has started to grow on me.

But mostly I’m posting this recipe because it made my office-mate envious last time I brought it in for lunch, which is a good indicator in my book!

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1/4 red onion
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 x 125 g tin chickpeas
1 small or half large fennel bulb
1 orange
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
2 handfuls baby spinach, rocket or parsley, or a combination of both (or any other likely winter greens that aren’t too bitter)
1 x 90g tin tuna packed in olive oil

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Recipe: Stuffed zucchini on roasted tomatoes

I was originally going to post this to my Tomatoes challenge, but then grant season got the better of me and nothing happened at all.  And now I have a Tofu challenge in play, and I have no idea what I’m going to do with that.  But right now, I’m working on the backlog of recipes that I created and scribbled down onto random pieces of paper in February (in fact, what I scribble down is a list of ingredients and quantities, trusting myself to remember the method, which is a bit of a gamble if the piece of paper then gets knocked off the desk by a cat, and batted under a couch, and then only found many weeks later), since this blog has been very nearly a recipre-free zone of late.

Anyway.  Zucchini flower season is almost over for us in Australia, but for once, I can give the Europeans and Americans a thrill by posting something that is about to come into season for a change!  I am constitutionally incapable of not buying zucchini flowers when I see them, which means that I then have to instantly re-jig any menu plans I’ve made, as zucchini flowers must be used the day you buy them, or at the very most, the day after.  In all probability, there are better ways to cook them – in fact, I am constantly being exhorted by farmers to try deep-frying them, stuffed or un-stuffed, in tempura batter, but since deep-frying is the one un-healthy culinary habit that I do not have, I am reluctant to learn it, even if tempura zucchini flowers does sound amazing.  God, that sentence was dreadful.  Sorry. 

Anyway, since I eschew the deep-fryer, my preferred option for zucchini flowers has always been to stuff them with a herby spinach and ricotta mix, and then bake them either in a simple tomato sauce or on a bed of roasting tomatoes. So far, nobody has complained at the lack of deep-frying, so here, for your delectation, is the recipe I normally use.  I apologise for the poor photographs – the light in my kitchen isn’t very good for photography.  I promise you, these zucchini flowers taste amazing, however they may look in these photos.

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12 zucchini flowers, preferable with the little zucchini still attached
1 kg assorted beautiful tomatoes
salt, pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
olive oil
2 tsp vinegar
oregano, to taste
150 g frozen spinach, defrosted (or a bunch of fresh)
300 g ricotta
50 g parmesan
a handful each of mint and basil leaves, chopped finely
nutmeg, pepper
1 egg
 
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Recipe: Spring Vegetables with Lemon Gnocchi and Mint

I love this time of year at the farmers’ market.  After living in the land of brassicas and root vegetables for months, suddenly we are gifted with sweet baby carrots, new peas, herbs, greens of all kinds, and, of course, asparagus.  Add a packet of beautiful gnocchi from Take Me Home and some ghee from the Butter Factory, and you have a meal I could eat every day for a month.  Or at least, that’s how it feels right now.

This may look kind of messy, but it really is a thing of beauty when you taste it – bursting with the sweet flavours of new vegetables, with a zing from the lemon in the gnocchi, and a touch of freshness from the mint.  Perfection.

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185 g peas (fresh if possible, frozen if that’s what you can get)
25 g ghee (or olive oil, if you are veganly inclined)
4 spring onions
10 baby carrots (about 175 g)
2 cloves garlic
10 asparagus spears (about 240 g before you snap off the ends)
3 tiny zucchini (about 180 g)
500 g lemon gnocchi (or plain gnocchi, and the zest of one lemon)
lavender salt (or plain salt plus some lavender or tarragon), black pepper
250 g cherry tomatoes
350 g fresh spinach (a medium-sized bunch)
a good handful of mint

ingredients

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Recipe: Vegan Pasta Primavera

First up, I should confess: the version of this dish you see is not 100% vegan, because I had this beautiful fresh egg pasta that needed to be used.  But the sauce is definitely vegan, and as I actually cook with egg-free pasta most of the time, it will certainly be vegan next time I make it.  So I think this counts as a vegan pasta dish, at least in its heart!

The sauce for this pasta is light and herby in flavour – I was trying to get a sort of ricotta-ish personality to the tofu, and I think I succeeded.  It’s actually based on a cheese, nut and herb purée from Mark Grant’s excellent book, Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens.  If you have any interest in historical foods that are actually edible and don’t involve flamingoes or dormice, I can highly recommend this cookbook.  The vegetables were what looked good at the farmers’ market and at the supermarket.  This recipe is, of course, even more fun if it’s what looks good in your garden, so if you have zucchini peas or string beans growing, feel free to use them in place of some of the other vegetables.  This recipe is very forgiving.

Don’t be intimidated by the very long list of ingredients for this recipe, by the way.  I promise that this recipe is very easy to make (the blender does much of the work), and practically every ingredient can be substituted for what you have on hand.  If you have a herb garden, you can have a lot of fun picking the different herbs for the sauce.  If not, don’t worry if you miss a few of them.  I think the parsley, coriander and mint are the most important, though the basil is good too.

Above all – enjoy!

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200 g tofu
150 g pine nuts
half a bunch of fresh parsley
half a bunch of fresh coriander
two sprigs of mint
two sprigs of basil
one sprig of oregano
four sprigs of dill
80 ml olive oil + more to sauté the vegetables
60 ml red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
salt to taste
150 g shelled broad beans (about 400g in the pod)
3 baby leeks, halved lengthways and sliced
1 baby fennel bulb, or half a standard fennel bulb, sliced finely
1 bulb of baby garlic (at the point where it is still a single clove), or one clove of the mature kind, chopped finely
12 baby carrots, as many colours as possible!
2 bunches of asparagus (about 225 g prepared weight)
1/2 cup white wine
400 g cherry tomatoes, as many colours as possible!
60 g spinach or rocket or a combination of both
500 g pasta, to serve

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Recipe: The Big Blue Breakfast That Wasn’t

I had Plans for this post.  Great plans.  This was going to be the Big Blue Breakfast post.  It was going to be amazing: a gorgeous, deep blue smoothie full of incredibly healthy ingredients to start your day.  I planned it carefully, with an eye to the anthocyanins in the blueberries – no acidic ingredients to make the blueberries go pink, and a good big dose of greens to enhance the general blueness of the situation.

Except that it didn’t work.  Or at least, it didn’t go blue.  Not alkaline enough without dairy milk, I suspect.  So I added some strawberries and cinnamon, blended it again, and wound up with something that was, at least, fairly purple, and surprisingly tasty and filling.  I must admit, I have been skeptical in the past of claims that you can put spinach or other greens into a smoothie without doing appalling things to the flavour, but it turns out you really can – there is, if you are looking for it, an earthy flavour at the back of this drink, but it really is only a backing note, and quite a pleasant one. 

And the spinach somehow also made the whole thing much more filling – I’m cycling into work again now that the days are longer, and expected to arrive ravenous after just a smoothie for breakfast, but actually, I was fine until morning tea and would probably have been fine until lunchtime, too, if morning tea hadn’t been on offer (scientists are surprisingly addicted to Vegemite, and I have fallen prey to this contagion myself).

Also, while I hesitate to talk about nutrition (on the grounds that I really do know very little about it), I realised on my way home that what I had also, very cunningly, done was given myself a great dose of easily absorbed iron for breakfast – one of the things I’m really bad at when being vegetarian is getting the iron thing right, because while there is plenty of iron to be had from leafy greens and legumes and so forth, my understanding is that it doesn’t absorb all that well unless you combine it with a source of vitamin C… like blueberries, for example.

So huzzah, this definitely counts as Iron Man Food!And it’s purple, which can only be an advantaage!

(And next time, I will figure out how to make it properly blue…)

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250g frozen blueberries
175 g strawberries
1 banana
1 fresh date
100 g baby spinach (about 2 cups, packed very firmly)
1 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon

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Recipe: Macaroni Cheese with chipotle pepper, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables

Ah, cheesy pasta bake.  The best comfort food in the world, not least because you can put practically anything in it successfully.  Pasta bakes are my go-to dish when I have a lot of random vegetables in the fridge and no idea what to do with them.  Or when I have bits of cheese in the fridge with no apparent unifying factor.  Or when I am tired and unimaginative and just want some melty cheesy goodness to make everything better.

My pasta bakes actually started life as tuna casserole, but over the years, the veggies have gradually edged out the tuna.  Corn developed companion onions, then capsicums and carrots and celery, then baby spinach or other leafy greens, then asparagus or tomato or cauliflower or broccoli, and pretty soon you end up with a situation where you look at the casserole dish and you look at the vegetables and the cheesy sauce and you realise that you will have to choose between adding tuna and adding pasta (or a situation in which you pile everything into the dish, totaly misjudge its capacity, and end up with cheese sauce all over the kitchen).  The tuna always loses.  The cheesy sauce, you will note, is never even considered as something to leave out.  While I have made pasta bakes without it, cheesy sauce really is the point of this dish.

Anyway, while I never really make the same pasta bake twice, tonight’s iteration was successful enough that I felt I ought to write it down.  The quantities are a little vague, but I think you should view this not as a bug but as a feature – consider the areas of uncertainty an opportunity for you to add your own chosen ingredients.  Or more cheese.  Go wild!

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(technically, this is not a shopping list, because if you are doing this right, it’s more of a case of foraging through the fridge and realising that hey, you have a roasted pepper over here, and look!  there’s still some mascarpone left!  But if you are actually trying to replicate what I did, here is what you need.)

1/2 a bunch of baby spinach
1/2 a bunch of rocket
1 roasted pepper
2 heads of broccoli
2 heads of baby cauliflower or half a head of the full-grown kind
6 spring onions
75 g butter (garlic butter is good)
90 g flour
750 ml milk
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, plus a couple of teaspoons of the sauce
100 g cheddar
100 g parmesan (actually, I have absolutely no idea how much cheese I used, but it was certainly a lot)
75 g mascarpone, maybe.  I really have no idea about this one – it was what was left in the tub…
black pepper
375 g curly pasta or short pasta of your choice
 

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Recipe: Grilled Mushroom and Roast Pepper Sandwich

When I saw those glorious mushrooms at the Farmers’ Market on Sunday, I knew exactly what I’d be having for dinner sometime this week. This is basically a particularly glorious toasted sandwich, but I tend to think of it as a vegetarian hamburger, which means I get to serve it with salt and vinegar chips (any excuse is a good excuse for chips).  The cheese, while luscious, can easily be omitted if you are avoiding dairy – believe me, there’s plenty of flavour left, though I’d probably consider adding some caramelised onions or some grilled eggplant or both.  Then again, I considered adding both those things today, too, but sanity (and the realisation that we would never be able to fit the sandwiches into our mouths) prevailed.  I suspect this would be nice as an untoasted sandwich, but it’s so, so, good just as it is!

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Two red capsicums – try to get ones with fairly flat sides, it will make your life easier.  This will give you leftovers, but you can always find a use for roasted capsicums.
Olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of greens – I used chinese broccoli, but spinach or kale would both be wonderful
2 enormous, gorgeous mushrooms
1 sprig of rosemary
4 thick slices of mozzarella – Gruyere or Jarlsberg would be phenomenal here.  About 150g – you’re eating lots of healthy vegetables, you can afford to be indulgent!
1 tomato
Four large slices of pasta dura or sourdough bread, or two good bread rolls
 

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