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When it starts getting hot out, I’m not up for cooking often. And lately I’ve been making summer salads more often than not. My pantry is always stuffed with grains, and I’m always looking for a new way to serve up my seeming never-ending supply of quinoa.

Lemon Quinoa Cilantro Chickpea Salad
adapted from the diva dish

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
15 oz can garbanzo beans (drained & rinsed)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 avocados, diced
2 cups chopped spinach
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup sweet onion
2 small cloves garlic

For the dressing:
Juice of 2 lemons
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
dash of salt and pepper

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil and add the quinoa. Bring back to a boil and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed the liquid. Remove from heat and let stand for 1-15 minutes. In a food processor, add your spinach and cilantro. Process the greens until they are finely diced. Add the greens to a bowl, and set aside. Next finely dice your onion and garlic and add to the greens mixture. Add your chickpeas and stir until everything is combined and coated. When the quinoa is cooled, add it to the chickpea mixture. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together. Pour over salad, and mix until combined. Add in tomatoes and avocado and mix. Set in fridge for about 10-15 minutes before serving to set the flavors.

Wow. This one really surprised me. Particularly because I didn’t have to make it myself! I came home from work one night this week to the amazing smell of dinner ready (Thank you husband!).
It was rich, delicious – and vegan! Not only does this keep us in line for eating better, but it’s incredibly satisfying and filling. I’m not usually a fan of sun dried tomatoes either, but in this sauce, they were absolutely delicious.

Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas over Sweet Potatoes
via the kitchn

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons grated ginger, from a 3-inch piece
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 large lemon, zested and juiced (about 2 tablespoons juice)
1 dried hot red pepper or dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 pound baby spinach
14-ounce can coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Whole roasted sweet potatoes
Cilantro leaves, to garnish

Heat oven to 400° F. Pierce each sweet potato several times with a fork. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to brown. Add the garlic, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and red pepper, if using. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the chickpeas and cook over high heat for a few minutes or until the chickpeas are beginning to turn golden and they are coated with the onion and garlic mixture.
Toss in the spinach, one handful at a time. This will take about 5 minutes; stir in a handful or two and wait for it to wilt down and make room in the pot before adding the next handful. When all the spinach has been stirred in, pour in the coconut milk and stir in the salt, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer then turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes or until the chickpeas are warm through. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice, if necessary.
Serve hot over roasted sweet potatoes, with cilantro leaves.

I have a number of goals this year, but my only true resolution is to get back to eating better on a regular basis. What does eating better mean for me? Less meat, particularly red and pork (but less meat overall), less dairy, more greens, and this year I’m hoping to add less gluten to the list of eating habits I’ve conquered. With that, I bring you a meal with both meat and dairy! Heh.
When the husband put risotto on his list of dinner ideas for the week, I groaned. “But it says ‘No Fuss Risotto!’ ” he cried. “Risotto is always fuss!” I retorted. Although, I will admit, I now know this recipe is much less fuss than most. Much less constant attention, and a bit more watching the clock. Oh yes, and a bit less cheese than I’ve added in the past.
Lighter, friendlier, and my definitely new favorite risotto.


image by Christine’s Cuisine

Risotto with Leeks and Chicken
via The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

5 cups chicken broth
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 12 ounce bone-in split chicken breasts, trimmed and cut in half length-wise
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, white and green parts only, chopped finely
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and Freshly ground pepper

Bring the broth and water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low to maintain a gentle simmer.
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until just starting to smoke. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook without moving until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook the second side until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the saucepan of simmering broth and cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, about 15 minutes.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter into the now empty Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the leek is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around the edges, about 3 minutes.
Add the wine and cook, stirring continuously until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir 5 cups of the hot broth into the rice, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until almost all liquid has been absorbed and the rice is just al dente, 16 to 18 minutes, stirring twice during cooking.
Add 3/4 cup of the hot broth to the risotto and stir gently and constantly until the risotto becomes creamy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach and Parmesan.
Remove from heat, cover and let stand 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove and discard the skin and bones from the chicken and shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Gently stir shredded chicken, remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, parsley, chives and lemon juice into risotto. To loosen the texture of the risotto, add the remaining broth mixture to taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.