Posts Tagged ‘Spinach’

Roasted butternut squash, spinach and feta tart

February 13, 2011

After a rather big night out with the girls I am feeling a smidgen jaded and have a wee tiny hangover. Sunday lunch with the family today and unfortunately I’m on cooking duty. The last thing I feel like doing is cooking! Can I go back to bed please…… Something simple and quick is in order me thinks. A whip round in Tescos for some essentials – tasty tart and salad, that’ll do nicely. Did I mention how much I love puff pastry? Shop bought puff pastry is a winner every time. No faffing around making your own and to make it even easier you can get ready rolled pastry – how good is that? Tarts are very simple and you can pretty much put anything on them. Mushrooms and caramelised onion, leek and Gruyere, Roasted tomato, basil and goats cheese etc etc. There are so many different combos to chose from. You can even do fruity sweet tarts too. YUM!

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 tin peeled tomatoes
1 red onion
4 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 butternut squash (about 700gm unpeeled)
250 grams of spinach
Parmesan (about 50 grams)
1/2 block of feta (about 100 grams)
1 ready roll sheet of All butter puff pastry

Method

First thing you will need to do is get the butternut squash prepared and in the oven to roast. Peel the squash and dice into 1cm cubes. One of my friends recently posted a status update on Facebook whingeing about how he had just been struggling with peeling a butternut squash. His biggest mistake was he was using a peeler. I strongly recommend you do not “peel” a squash you cut the peel off with a sturdy chef knife. Cut the top and the bottom off so that it sits on the board without rolling around then cut the bulbous end off (the bit with the seeds in). You should be left with the long thinner part and the bulbous bit. This will make cutting the peel off a heap easier. Does that make sense?

Ok now you have your butternut squash diced, pop it into a roasting tin or oven proof dish season with salt and pepper and toss in olive oil so it is evenly coated.

Roast in the oven at about 180 degrees for 30 mins or until soft and golden.

Set aside.

While the squash is roasting you can make the tomato sauce. Finely dice the onion and crush the garlic. Saute on a low-medium heat with a good hearty glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook until soft and sweet and the harshness of the onions has disappeared.

Add the tinned tomatoes and simmer until tomatoes have broken down and sauce has thickened up – about 30 minutes. The sauce needs to be the consistency of a pizza sauce.

Wash the spinach and saute in a pot with a splash of olive oil and season with S & P. Cook until just wilted then squeeze out the excess liquid through a sieve or colander.

Time to put the tart together.

Pop the sheet of puff pastry onto a non stick baking sheet. Score the pastry sheet along each edge about 2 cm in to create a border.

Spread the inside of the tart (not the edge part) with tomato sauce.

Finely grate over some Parmesan, sprinkle with butternut squash and dot with spinach. Crumble over 1/2 the feta and pop in a preheated oven 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes or until edges have puffed up and pastry is golden.

Serve immediately with a huge bowl of salad.

You will probably have enough to make 2 tarts and depending on how greedy your guests are it’s probably worthwhile having another puff pastry sheet on hand just in case (we had 2 between 5 of us AKA greedy).

My trusty chickpea and spinach curry with Tahini yoghurt

October 25, 2010

Chickpea and spinach curry

I must have cooked this curry a thousand times. It’s fab – I suppose it is more like a stew than a curry as it is not very curry-y. It’s one of those “I don’t really have much time but I want something healthy and hearty for dinner” meals. This has been cooked for many of my friends as a last-minute meal and they loved it.

Ingredients (serves 4)

Chickpea curry

2 tins of chickpeas
2 table spoons of cumin powder
2 red onions
6 – 8 cloves of garlic
1 kg ripe tomatoes (ideally roma/egg tomatoes not not essential)
200 grams baby spinach
Salt and pepper

Tahini and Yoghurt sauce

2 tbsp Hulled tahini
1 cup Greek yogurt

Method

Onion and garlic

Finely dice onions and finely chop garlic. Add to heavy based pan with a hearty glug of olive oil and a large pinch of sea salt.

Saute onions and garlic

Saute onions and garlic on a low/medium heat until soft and sweet. Add cumin and cook spice until fragrant making sure that the spice does not burn – this should only take a couple of minutes.

Add diced fresh tomatoes

Dice the tomatoes and add to the pot.

Simmer on a medium heat for 20 – 25 mins until tomatoes have fully broken down and has become “saucy” if you know what I mean. You may need to add a little bit of water if you feel that it is getting too thick.

Add chickpeas

Add drained and rinsed chickpeas and simmer for a further 10 – 15 mins until chickpeas are nice and soft. The tinned ones tend to be a little bit firm.

Add baby spinach

Add the baby spinach and stir through – season with salt and pepper to taste. N.B. You will need quite a bit of salt.

Spinach and chickpea curry

Mix the yogurt with the tahini, you can add a little lemon juice and some seasoning if you wish but you don’t really need to.

Serve chickpea curry with brown rice and tahini and yogurt sauce – I sometimes sprinkle the top with oven roasted unsalted cashews and a drizzle of peppery olive oil.

**** Please note the photo of the curry has plain yoghurt on it not the yoghurt and tahini sauce – I ran out of tahini. It’s really worth making though and just to let you know tahini is packed full of calcium and is really really good for you.

Spinach and feta dip with homemade pitta chips

October 25, 2010

Spinach and feta dip

Dips are so easy and it doesn’t have to be guacamole and hummous everytime. Even though I do love them they can get a little bit dull.

Feta is a great medium for a dip, you can mix lots of different things into it like sauteed mushrooms, fresh herbs, chargrilled red pepper, courgettes etc.

I chose to use frozen spinach as I had bought a bag as a bit of a trial to see if it was a good cheap alternative to the fresh stuff. It isn’t!

But it does have it’s uses….

This dip for example (however I do think it would taste better with wilted fresh spinach).

Ingredients

100 grams frozen spinach
200 grams feta
Olive oil
Lemon
Salt and Pepper
Dried oregano

Method

Cook spinach as per instructions, I microwaved mine for 2 mins. Then drain through a sieve.

Drain spinach

Once drained and cool pop into the food processor with the feta, juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano.

Spinach feta in food processor

Blend then season to taste adding more lemon if required.

Serve with Pitta Chips

Ingredients

Pitta bread

Method

Cut pita bread into triangles

Cut pitta bread into triangles and split in half.

Tip: you can dust the pitta with some paprika or cummin to jazz it up if you want.

Bake in oven

Bake in the oven at 200 degrees Celcius until golden and crunchy.

Crunchy pita chips

The “real” Greek Spanakopita

July 13, 2010

Spanakopita

Ok I know I have already written about Spanakopita (spinach pie) but I cheated last time and used puff pastry. This is proper spinach pie with filo and no pumpkin!! The other one is good too but this is better!

My friend Rebecca is the inspiration for this little beauty, she made Adam and I a cracking spinach pie for dinner up in sunny Brisbane (or more commonly know as Bris-vegas). It was fan-bloody-tastic and definitely would give the Greeks a run for their money!!

I made it for dinner last night and it was a raging success – the parents loved it! We had left overs for lunch today and may I say with a little bit of an oven reheat it was better that the fresh pie the day before.

Ingredients (serves 6)

750 grams of spinach (you can use silverbeet just remove the white stems)
1 medium white or brown onion
1 spring onions (shallots in Oz)
1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley
1/3 cup of fresh mint
Small bunch of beetroot leaves
1 packet of filo pastry (thawed in fridge if frozen)
120 grams of unsalted butter
200 grams of feta (ideally Greek)
100 grams of finely grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Olive oil

Method

Wash and remove any tough long stalks from the spinach leaves and dry in a salad spinner if you have one. If not drain well and pat dry with clean tea towels.

Slice finely and set aside.

Sauted onion and spring onion

Finely dice the onion and finely slice the spring onions and add to a large heavy based pan with approx a tablespoon or two of oil.

Fry on a low to medium heat until soft.

Add spinach, finely chopped mint and parsley and cook on a medium heat until all leaves have wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated. You may need to add the spinach in batches as it might not all fit in the pot at once.

Onions, spring onions and spinach

Once the spinach is at this stage stain the rest of the liquid out by placing in a colander over a heat proof bowl. Press as much of the moisture out as you can – this will help prevent the pastry from going soggy.

Straining spinach through colander

Leave spinach to cool.

In another bowl crumble feta and add finely grated parmesan.

Crumbled feta and finely grated parmesan

Once spinach is cooled add to the cheeses and mix through. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add a little finely grated fresh nutmeg.

Spinach feta and parmesan filling for spanakopita

Now it is time to make the pie. Filo pastry dries out very quickly so it is best to leave the packet unopened until the very last minute. Melt the butter in a small pot on the stove, get your pastry brush out, a ceramic, glass or metal pie tin and have the filling ready to go.

Ideally the pie dish would be approx the same size as 1/2 a sheet of filo.

Open the packet of filo and start by cutting the sheets in half.

Brush the dish with melted butter and lay one sheet at the bottom, brush with butter and lay on top. Continue to do this until you have used 1/2 of the sheets (this usually will be between 7 and 10 of the 1/2 sheets). Dollop the filling over the top and spread into an evenish layer.

Spanakopita - spinach filling added

Now layer the sheets on top making sure you brush each sheet with butter before you lay the next sheet on top. Once you have laid the last sheet brush the top with butter and cut diagonally across the top layers of pastry to create portions. Do not cut all the way through just the top part.

Cut portions sizes in diamond shapes

Cook in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius until golden brown. If browning too quickly turn the oven down a little bit.

Leave to cool for about 30 minutes before serving to give the pie time to rest.

Spanakopita portion

Serve with a leafy green salad or a Greek salad if you wish.

It was so good I feel like making again tonight – yummy!!! Or maybe I will try and do a mushroom, ricotta and parsley one……will keep you posted.

Quick and easy spinach, tomato and Parmesan omelette

May 27, 2010

Spinach tomato and Parmesan omelette

Omelette is one of those things that vegetarians get for dinner when people don’t know what to cook for a vegetarian. Flooded in cheese and resembling a big greasy rubbery frisbee – delicious (note heavy sarcasm).

It just doesn’t have to be that way.

A good omelette is fabulous. It’s quick and tasty.

I don’t make them very often and when I do it is usually for breakfast – it kind of feels like a bit of a cop-out to make it for dinner.

The success of a good omelette, I believe, lies in the pan. It has to be a good non stick frying pan or omelette pan.

Another essential is not to over cook the omelette. It will keep cooking when it is on the plate so make sure that you remove it from the heat before it is “ready”.

Anyway I cooked a cracking omelette the other day and thought I would share it with you, I had it for breakfast but I won’t judge you if you want to cook it for dinner – honestly.

Ingredients

3 free range eggs
Approx 100 grams of baby spinach
1/2 medium red onion
1 ripe tomato
Parmesan (Reggiano or Padano)
Olive oil and/or butter
Salt and pepper

Finely dice onion and saute in frying pan with a little olive oil, a little knob of butter and a pinch of salt.

Sauted onion

When cooked through and soft add tomato diced.

Add tomato

Crack eggs into a bowl and lightly whisk with a fork. Add a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

Add roughly chopped spinach

Roughly chop spinach and add to the frying pan with the onion and tomato, cook until wilted then remove from the pan.

Wipe out frying pan and add a little more butter and olive oil.

Pour eggs into pan and stir a little

Pour egg into pan and stir a little bit.

Sprinkle Parmesan on omelette

Sprinkle about a tablespoon of finely grated Parmesan onto the omelette and place the spinach down the middle and then fold over.

Add spinach

Pop onto a plate and eat immediately.

Kefalonian spinach and feta pie (with roast pumpkin thrown in)

May 24, 2010

Spinach Pumpkin and feta pie

How can you go wrong with puff pastry? It’s just great, obviously not the best diet food but everything in moderation.

I am a huge fan of Greek food – good Greek food that is. Stuffed veggies, slow roast lemon potatoes, Tzatziki, Greek salad and my absolute favorite Spanakopita.

While I was at Art College I managed to wangle a job in a bar on the Greek island of Kefalonia for the summers. I had an absolute ball, at the time I was in my late teens early twenties and I really can’t think of anything I would have enjoyed more!

After work my friends and I would head off to get something to eat. It was usually about 5am and the place was always buzzing, our options were to head down to the square for Souvlaki, the beach for a toasted sandwich or to the bakery for fresh out of the oven Spanakopita.

My first choice every time was the bakery. Gorgeous flakey puff pastry filled with spinach and feta. Yummy!

So I decided to make my own version tonight but with a little difference I added some roast butternut pumpkin because I had some in the fridge, and pumpkin, spinach and feta goes really well together.

Ingredients

1 block of puff pasty or sheets
200 grams of English spinach
1 red onion
1 large lemon
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon of fresh mint finely chopped
1/2 cup of finely grated Parmesan (Padano or Reggiano)
150 grams of feta crumbled
1 1/2 cups of 1 cm diced butternut pumpkin
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1 egg
Sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Finely diced onion

Finely dice onion and add to large bowl.

Finely sliced spinach

Wash dry and finely slice spinach and add to the onions.

Onion spinach and lemon with pinch of salt

Add a pinch of salt to the bowl and the juice of one lemon give a good mix through.

Diced pumpkin

Pop pumpkin pieces into a roasting dish and add a pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper grinder. Add a glug of olive oil and toss so that the pumpkin in coated.

Put pumpkin into the oven for approx 20 – 30 mins until the pumpkin is cooked and slightly golden in colour. Make sure you regularly stir the pumpkin to ensure that it does not stick and roasts evenly.

Squeezing out the liquid from the spinach

After the spinach has been sitting for about 20 – 30 mins it should have released a lot of liquid. Empty the spinach mixture into a colander or sieve and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can.

Spinach feta parmesan thyme mint

Pop the spinach into a clean dry bowl and add the thyme leaves, finely chopped mint, crumbled feta and grated Parmesan. Season with pepper and a little salt (if you need it). Stir through thoroughly.

Spinach mixture

Once the pumpkin is cooked add to the spinach and cheese mix.

Add pumpkin to the spinach mix

Increase the oven temperature to 220 degrees.

Rolled out puff pastry cut into 15 cm squares

Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface and cut into 15 cm squares.

Spinach mixture onto pastry

Add a large spoonful of the spinach mixture to the center of the pastry squares.

Press edges together with fork

Brush the edges of the pastry with lightly beaten egg and fold over to make triangles. Press the edges together and either mark with a fork or fold over on its self to create a sealed edge.

Pies on a baking sheet ready to go in oven

Brush the pies with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Place on a floured baking sheet and bake in oven for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown – make sure you check the underside of the pies – this should also be golden brown. If not put back into the oven and back for a few more minutes until the underside is golden brown.

Pies cooked

Serve with a leafy salad.

Spinach feta and pumpkin pie with salad

You could make smaller versions of these for finger food or picnics.

Delish! And also good cold.