Oh my… this silky side can be prepared dangerously easily. We loved it too.
The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Julia Langbein. I modified the proportions. Although it was fabulously creamy, I would incorporate less crème fraîche next time.
The original recipe notes that heavy cream and fresh lemon juice could be substituted for the crème fraîche for a similar flavor profile. I personally loved the tanginess from the crème fraîche.
Yield: about 6 servings
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pound (16 oz) spinach (mature or baby spinach)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg, optional
1/2 to 3/4 cup crème fraîche (I used 3/4 cup but would start with 1/2 cup next time)
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. (I used a stainless steel sauté pan.)
Cook the garlic cloves, stirring occasionally, until golden around edges and very fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high and add spinach, by the handful, stirring and letting it wilt slightly after each addition. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Add freshly grated nutmeg, to taste, if desired.
Cook spinach, stirring often, until mostly wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Add 1/2 cup crème fraîche; stir until spinach is saucy and coated. Add more, as desired.
Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed.
This special pie was the perfect way to use my CSA butternut squash and the very last leaves of my homegrown basil. The incorporation of cumin and coriander seeds gave it a unique flavor profile. Fancy comfort food. 🙂
The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. Lovely.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
For the Pie:
4 T olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan (I used cooking oil spray on the pan)
10 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 T tomato paste
1 T cumin seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 T coriander seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
1 (9 to 12-ounce) jar red peppers, drained
1 tsp light brown sugar
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small butternut squash (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, halved, deseeded and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (I used a mandoline to slice the squash)
8 ounces dried lasagna noodles, each roughly broken into 3 or 4 pieces (I used oven-ready no-boil lasagna)
7 ounces baby spinach (10 lightly packed cups)
1 packed cup basil leaves, torn in halves
1 cup crumbled Greek feta
heaping 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
For the Béchamel:
3 T unsalted butter
5 T all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk, plus more if needed
2 garlic cloves, minced
fine sea salt
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Heat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
Grease a 9-inch springform cake pan then line it with a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the base and hang over the sides by a couple inches. (I used cooking oil spray.) Place pan on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
Add the oil to a small frying pan and heat over medium. Once it’s hot, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring until fragrant but not browned.
Add the tomato paste, cumin, coriander and chile flakes and cook for 1 minute more, stirring often, until deeply red. Set aside to cool slightly.
Add tomato paste mixture to a small food processor with the red peppers, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper; blitz until smooth. (I did this in 2 batches.)
Empty the mixture into a very large bowl and add the squash slices, lasagna pieces, spinach, basil, feta, Parmesan, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and a good grind of pepper. Use your hands to make sure everything is nicely coated.
Transfer this mixture to your lined cake pan, adding a third at a time and pressing lightly to ensure everything is even and compact.
Using heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap the cake pan all around until tightly sealed, place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.
Toward the last 15 minutes of baking time, make the béchamel: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking steadily, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it starts to smell like popcorn.
Slowly pour in the milk 1/2 cup at a time, whisking with each addition until fully incorporated.
Add the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Use a spatula to stir and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to ensure the bottom doesn’t scorch, until nice and smooth.
Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan. *If the pie isn’t done, cover the top with a piece of parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming. The béchamel is easier to handle when warm; if needed, reheat gently with a splash of milk to loosen.*
After the pie has cooked for 1 hour, remove it from the oven and carefully unwrap the top foil and paper, crinkling it down and around the sides of the pan to expose the top.
Spoon the béchamel on top, using a spatula to distribute it evenly over the surface. (Take care not to mix it with the base; you want the béchamel to remain white.)
Turn the oven temperature up to 450 degrees, preferably on convection, and place the cake pan back on its baking sheet and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until nicely browned on top.
Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Carefully release the pie from the springform pan, loosening the outer ring then using the parchment to help lift it onto a serving plate or board. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I loved the idea of transforming one of our absolute favorite comfort food dishes into a summer dinner made on the grill. The burgers were very moist and packed with flavor. We ate them on potato rolls with coleslaw, potato chips, pickles, and watermelon. Perfect!
This recipe was adapted form The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. We grilled the burgers, increased the amount of garlic, and used sliced fresh mozzarella. Cheesy and delicious.
Yield: Serves 4
olive oil or cooking oil spray
1 pound ground chicken or turkey, preferably dark meat
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, divided
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
4 (1/4-inch thick) slices from a large ripe tomato
4 (1/-4 inch thick) slices fresh mozzarella or 1/2 cup grated fresh or low-moisture mozzarella
4 potato rolls, burger buns or ciabatta rolls
baby spinach or arugula, for serving
Lightly grease a large plate with olive oil or cooking oil spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, tomato paste, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt.
Gently incorporate the ground meat into the cheese mixture.
Working the meat as little as possible, form 4 patties that are each about 4 1/2 inches wide and about 1/2 cup or 135 grams.
Transfer to the greased plate, cover, and refrigerate. (This helps maintain the shape and also prevents the juices and fat from leaking.)
On a rimmed plate, sprinkle the tomato slices with salt.
If using grated mozzarella, stir together the mozzarella and the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
Preheat a grill to medium heat. (I used a griddle on the grill and preheated it at this time too.)
Toast the buns on the preheated grill, if desired. (I omitted this step.)
Oil the grill griddle and add the patties. Cook until browned underneath, 3 to 5 minutes. (Reduce heat if the patties are burning.)
Flip the patties, top each with 1/2 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese followed by a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese (or with the combination of grated cheeses, if using).
Cover the grill with the lid and cook until the cheese is melted and the patties are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Pat the tomatoes dry.
To each bottom bun, add a handful of baby spinach or arugula, followed by a slice of tomato, a chicken patty and its top bun. Serve hot with chips and coleslaw, as desired.
I have a couple dishes to share that are absolutely loaded with greens. This colorful dish could be served as a main but we ate it as a hearty side with grilled mustard chicken thighs and roasted potatoes. I drizzled the potatoes with residual bacon fat (from this dish) prior to roasting- great.
This recipe was adapted from The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman, via The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. I modified the method and incorporated my CSA beet greens, kale, and collard greens. The original recipe notes that carrots or summer squash can be substituted for the peppers and corn. Easy and delicious.
Yield: Serves 6 as a side
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot or small onion, minced
3 cups corn kernels, from about 4 ears corn (or a combination of corn and diced summer squash)(thawed frozen corn okay)
1/2 cup chopped red or orange bell pepper (or carrot)
pinch red pepper flakes
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
6 to 8 cups de-stemmed greens, like chard or kale, cut into 1/4-inch ribbons (or whole baby spinach, or another tender green)(I used a combination of beet greens, kale, & collard greens)
Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Transfer to paper towels to drain; pour off all but a teaspoon of fat from the skillet. (Reserve the bacon fat for another use- such as roasting potatoes!)
Add butter and melt.
Add shallot (and carrot, if using) and adjust heat; vegetables should sizzle, but not scorch. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.
Add greens and cook for about 4 minutes, until beginning to wilt.
Add corn (and/or squash), peppers, and pepper flakes and let sizzle, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Crumble bacon and add to skillet with scallions. Cook together 1 minute and serve hot.
These Greek-inspired chicken burgers were juicy and flavor-packed. They were relatively healthy too! We ate them on Memorial Day with corn and potato salad on the side. Delicious.
This recipe was loosely adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sue Li. I used freshly ground chicken thighs, added feta, and modified the proportions and method. The original recipe notes that in order to keep the burgers moist, it is important that the meat isn’t packed too tightly. I think that the exorbitant amount of spinach also kept the burgers moist.
I have shared my love for manicotti in the past– stemming from wonderful memories of enjoying it with my college roommate’s large Italian family on Easter Sunday.
I have made many versions of spinach manicotti, usually filling store-bought manicotti noodles. Using no-boil lasagna noodles instead was a great “less-hassle” shortcut. They were also chosen to mimic the texture of fresh pasta. It was absolutely true! I will never buy manicotti noodles again. 😉
This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. I replaced one cup of ricotta cheese with an equivalent amount of chopped, steamed spinach seasoned with freshly grated nutmeg. I also used whole milk ricotta instead of part-skim, part-skim mozzarella instead of whole milk mozzarella, coarse salt instead of table salt, and modified the method. Fabulous.
4 ounces (about 2 cups) grated Parmesan cheese, divided (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
8 ounces (about 2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim mozzarella)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (I used Trader Joe’s)
Steam the baby spinach until wilted. (I did this on the stove top.)
Let the spinach cool slightly, then use a potato ricer to remove excess liquid. Coarsely chop. (You should have about 1 cup.) Season with salt and freshly ground nutmeg. Set aside.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
Make the Sauce: Pulse 1 can tomatoes with their juice in food processor until coarsely chopped, 3 or 4 pulses. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining can tomatoes.
Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes (if using) in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.
Stir in basil; adjust seasoning with salt. Set aside.
Make the Filling: Combine the chopped spinach, ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs in medium bowl; set aside.
To Assemble: Pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9-inch broiler-safe baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. (I used a pyrex dish.) Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 to 6 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking.
Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels. Do not use paper towels because the noodles may stick. (I used flour sack towels.)
If using the same dish to bake the manicotti, drain the water and dry the dish. (I used a ceramic baking dish to bake the manicotti instead of using the pyrex dish.)
Place the preferred baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce.
Using a large cookie scoop or a soup spoon, spread 3 to 4 tablespoons of the spinach-cheese filling mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed.
Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down.
Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered. (It seems like a lot of liquid but it’s necessary for the no-boil noodles to cook properly.)
To Bake: Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil.
Remove baking dish, adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element).
Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Return to the oven on the adjusted oven rack; bake for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.
Set the oven to broil.
Broil until cheese is lightly brown or spotty brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve.
Note: The manicotti can be prepared through step 15, covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. (If frozen, thaw the manicotti in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.) To bake, remove the parchment, replace the aluminum foil, and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
This was a belated side dish to add onto my husband’s celebratory birthday meal. We love drawn out celebrations. 😉 (We also wanted to spread out our indulgences!)
This classic recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com; I modified the proportions and method. I may add shallots instead of yellow onion next time. It was fabulously rich and delicious.
Yield: Serves 6
2 to 2 1/2 pounds fresh baby spinach or regular spinach, tough stems discarded (I used baby spinach)
1 3/4 cups whole milk and/or heavy cream (I used 1 cup whole milk & 3/4 cup heavy cream)
1/2 of a large onion or 1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 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. (I used a pasta pot without the insert.) Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes for baby spinach and 4 to 6 minutes for regular spinach.
Press or squeeze out the excess liquid any number of ways, either by using a potato ricer (my favorite method), 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. (I actually used a medium saucepan instead.)
Heat milk or cream in a measuring cup in the microwave or in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm. Keep warm. (If using the microwave, heat the mixture immediately before using.)
Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic 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, chopped spinach, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until heated through.
Do ahead: Creamed spinach can be made one day ahead and chilled, covered then reheated over moderately low heat until hot. However, it really tastes best eaten immediately.