Tag Archives: spinach

Recipe: Leek, spinach and pea risotto

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Risotto is one of my favourite comfort foods, and I almost licked the plate when a friend and I inhaled bowls of spinach, leek and pea risotto (but made with barley) at Taurus Crafts near Lydney. So my mission was to recreate it at home. And it turned out to be about the easiest dish ever …

Except, I didn’t have any barley, so it was bog-standard risotto rice called in to play. What with a handful of frozen peas and two twirls of frozen spinach, it required a minimum of chopping. I approve thoroughly. Next time I might be inclined to try it with fresh thyme in.

If you make too much and can resist it cold, you can have risotto balls shallow-fried the next day. If you’re vegetarian, put a chunk of melty cheese in the middle; if you’re vegan, try them with salsa.

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Ingredients (serves two, or one plus generous leftovers)

Half a leek

Knob of butter or tbsp of olive oil

120g of risotto rice 750ml of vegetarian stock (you may not need all of it)

Handful of frozen peas

Handful of fresh spinach, or a couple of lumps of frozen

Vegetarian-style parmesan

Sea salt

Black pepper

Finely chop the leek and soften in the butter or oil. Add the rice and stir to coat it. Once it starts crackling, add the stock gradually. Stir often to stop the rice sticking.

Once the rice is almost cooked (keep testing it), throw in the peas and spinach – and remember that if you’re using frozen spinach that it will release liquid. Once the liquid is absorbed and the vegetables cooked, remove from the heat and season with salt and black pepper.

If you’re vegetarian, add the parmesan substitute; if you’re vegan, try some nutritional yeast flakes. You can add a knob of butter or vegan spread to make the dish even more creamy. Let the risotto rest for a few minutes, then serve.

Recipe: Lemony Lentil & Spinach Soup

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This recipe is based on one from A Lebanese Feast of Vegetables, Pulses, Herbs and Spices by Mona Hamadeh (review to follow). I have had to adapt it because a) I didn’t have the green lentils it originally called for and b) I really don’t like swiss chard. I did buy the chard for this recipe, but when I was cutting it up I gave it a quick taste and ick! if I want something that earthy, I’ll go lick an earthworm or something! So, no chard, but I had some fresh spinach to hand so I used that instead. Please use chard if you do like it.

This is a lovely soup. The strong lemon flavour seems to pull the sun into the soup, giving promise of warmer days to come. It’s freshness and warmth suit the uncertain spring weather. A keeper, I think with the possibilities of a change of vegetable to suit whatever is available.

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Ingredients
1 large onion, chopped
250g split red lentils
1 l vegetable stock
250g fresh spinach, finely chopped
2 lemons, juiced

Soften the onion in a little oil in a large saucepan.
When the onions are translucent, add the lentil and vegetable stock.
Bring to the simmer, skim off any scum from the surface, cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes.
Add the chopped spinach and lemon juice.
Stir vigorously to break up the lentils.
Simmer for another 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Recipe: Saag Aloo

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Spinach is one of those vegetables you’re supposed to hate as a child and maybe get to like as you grow older. I didn’t hate spinach as a child because I never ate it. I think it was my Dad that hated it even as an adult and it just never appeared on our table. I think the first spinach I ever ate was the baby spinach leaves in a salad. I don’t tend to eat it cooked as a side-dish, but as an ingredient in other things. And one of my favourites is Saag Aloo, the Indian restaurant favourite of spinach and potatoes.

I love it, but it tends to be very oily in restaurants and what I wanted to do was see if I could get the same flavour but without the fat. I based my flavours on this recipe, but instead of frying the potato at the start, I added some water to boil them. If you keep the lid off the pan, most of the water disappears so that you get a dryish dish rather than soup.

This has plenty of punch. I say it serves two, but I can eat a pan of this to myself!

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Ingredients

1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 chilli
1 clove garlic
250g new potatoes, cubed

1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
100ml water
150g frozen spinach
1/2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Heat some oil in a pan.
When it’s hot add the mustard seeds and watch them spit and sputter for a few seconds.
Then add the chilli and garlic.
Once the garlic is starting to brown, add the potatoes with the cumin and coriander powder.
Stir thoroughly.
Add the water and bring to the simmer.
Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes or the potatoes are nearly cooked.
Add the spinach, stir and then cook for 5 more minutes.
Serve with the coriander leaves sprinkled over the top.

Serves 2 as a side dish

Recipe: Greens and mash

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I’m in trouble with the doctor. Recent blood tests showed that my Folic Acid levels were very low. She knows I’m a vegetarian and fixed me with a beady stare, commenting that of course I was eating my leafy green vegetables …

I shuffled my feet and confessed that while I’ve been ill, my eating patterns have been very patchy. So I left the surgery with a promise to take Folic Acid supplements and to get down to the supermarket and stock up on spinach, kale and the like.

And so far I’ve been pretty good about eating my greens. I’ve been looking for recipes which are quick and easy, as I don’t always feel up to cooking, and which incorporate ingredients likely to tempt my suddenly very erratic and fussy appetite.

Which leads me to mashed potato, my go-to comfort food. And courtesy of my brother and Nigel Slater, I’ve found two fabulous ways of using leafy greens. I was perfectly happy with them as they came, but you could also use them as accompaniments to veggie sausages or even a nut roast.

Ingredients

Make up as much mashed potato as you can scoff. Plain with just butter/milk works best for variation 1. For variation 2, I mixed in a touch of wholegrain mustard and some finely-grated veggie parmesan. I always use industrial amounts of black pepper!

Variation 1 (from a Nigel Slater recipe)

Cavolo nero

Stilton

Butter

When the potatoes are almost cooked, shred the cavolo nero fairly finely. I’m not used to frying stuff in butter, but I have to admit it did taste good when I cooked the greens in it – they need four to five minutes until they’re tender. If it’s very stalky, cook those first, then addd the leaves for last minute or two. Tip the cavolo nero out and crumble the cheese into the pan (use some more butter if you want to) and let it melt slightly. Nigel Slater’s recipe involved finely chopped rosemary leaves cooked in the butter before you add the cheese, but I didn’t have any to hand and I thought the recipe was fine without it. Mash the potatoes, make a well in the middle, then pile on the cavolo nero. Tip the blue cheese (and any juices left) over the mash.

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Variation 2 (from my brother Jon)

Spinach

Lemon

Butter

Cook and mash the potatoes – and this recipe is more fun if you add something to the mash. My brother recommended strong cheddar or wholegrain mustard, but I’m trying to limit how much cheese I have, so I went for about half a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, and a couple of tablespoons of vegetarian parmesan. It’s easy to make this variation vegan by using dairy-free spread, and by leaving cheese out of the mash. You could maybe chop spring onions finely and add them instead, or make garlic mash, or even use some horseradish.

Wilt the spinach and lift out of the pan. Add the juice of half a lemon and a knob of butter to the liquid and whisk. Make a well and tip the juices over the spinach and the mash.

This second variation is in the photo – and apologies for the shadows. That’s what comes of trying to take pix on a winter night!

Recipe: Lentil, Coconut and Spinach Soup

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This soup was a surprise. I was trying to find a way of using up the coconut milk I had left over from the Tofu with Coconut and Lime I’d made earlier in the week. I was expecting something fairly ordinary that would do for a midweek supper or to take to work for lunch.

What I got was a subtly-spiced, rich, creamy soup that I would happily eat at a dinner party. With all the exotic ingredients that go into this dish, the predominant flavour is still that of the lentils, but with hints of lime, coconut and spices lingering around the iron greenness of the spinach.

Stick a fancy garnish on this one and you’ll find it has substance to back up the style.

Lentil and spinach soup photo DSCN0953_zpsf4fba8ad.jpg

Ingredients
200g red lentils
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 kaffir lime leaf
100ml coconut milk
75g frozen spinach
1/2 lime, juiced
chopped coriander to garnish

In a large saucepan add all the ingredients except the spinach, lime and coriander and bring up to the simmer.
Add the spinach and let the soup come back up to heat again.
Cover the pan and let it simmer gently for 25-30 minutes for the lentils to be cooked.
Remove the lime leaf and blend the soup until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper and stir in the lime juice.
Serve with the chopped coriander as a garnish.

Serves 2