Gardening Articles: Health :: Cooking

Savoring Spinach (page 3 of 4)

by Ellen Ogden

Spinach Phyllo Pie

A variation of the traditional Greek spanakopita, I serve this family favorite alongside creamy tomato soup.

Preparation and cooking time: 65 minutes
2 tablespoons safflower oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion or Walla Walla sweet type, peeled and chopped
8 cups spinach (savoy or smooth-leafed)
3 eggs
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 package phyllo dough (defrosted according to package instructions)

Preheat oven to 375&deg F. Heat oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sautee until golden (3 to 5 minutes). Meanwhile, wash spinach well in warm water, then transfer to the skillet with water still clinging to the leaves. Stir, cover and cook until spinach is reduced but still bright green. Remove lid and continue to cook until most of the water has evaporated.

Beat eggs in a food processor until frothy. Add the spinach mixture to eggs and quickly chop. Blend in cottage cheese and nutmeg. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 1/2 cup butter. Using a pastry brush, paint the inside of a casserole dish (approximately 8"x12"x3") with the melted butter. Place two sheets of phyllo in the dish and, using the pastry brush, sparingly coat the top layer with melted butter. Repeat this layering and buttering process eight times. Pour in the spinach filling. Place two sheets of phyllo on top of the filling and repeat the layering and buttering step eight more times. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top turns golden brown. Serve warm. (Leftovers can be served chilled the next day with a luncheon salad.) Serves 4 to 6.

The Ultimate Fresh Spinach Salad

One of the advantages of growing your own spinach is harvesting the spinach crowns -- the root ends of the plant with about two inches of stem attached. The Chinese call them "parrot beaks" because of their colorful red tips. Crowns are only good fresh, as they toughen with age. Blanch them in boiling water and toss with greens for an interesting salad.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
1 cup spinach crowns (see above)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, cut in half
2 tablespoons good-quality vinegar (Balsamic, sherry or basil)
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup or sugar
2 cups smooth-leafed spinach, washed and thoroughly dried
2 cups mixed salad greens
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup homemade croutons
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch spinach crowns until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain, cool and dry.

Meanwhile, season a wooden salad bowl by sprinkling with salt and rubbing with garlic halves. Mince the garlic halves and place in the bowl. Whisk in vinegar, mustard and maple syrup or sugar. Add spinach, salad greens and spinach crowns and toss with the vinegar mixture. Add onion, croutons and cheese. Heat oil until it is very hot, just short of smoking. Pour the hot oil over the salad, turning the leaves with a pair of tongs to coat each leaf. Taste and season with more vinegar, if needed. Serves 2 to 4.

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