Tag Archives: spinach

A-ha Moments with Spinach

Have you ever had one of those moments where you finally get what all the fuss is about? I happened to me when I heard Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” the first time I caught a wave on a surfboard, and with a swallow of cognac from a 150 year old distillery near my father-in-law’s family home. For years, I hadn’t understood why people obsessed over Adele, surfing, or any alcohol in the whisky-burbon-scotch-cognac family, and then, in an instant, I did.

This dish was my moment with spinach. I like spinach, and I eat plenty of it in salads or mixed in with a variety of rice and pasta dishes, but I had never thought of it as much of a star player on its own. Spinach is just not that interesting of a flavor, right? Boy, was I wrong. In this dish, the flavor of spinach becomes strong and deeply verdant; the leaves around the edges of the pan crisp up and mix with crisped cheese to make little spinach nachos; the soft velvet texture of spinach is offset by breadcrumbs; this dish is spinach, seriously good. Not that we have a cultural obsession with spinach, but maybe we should. Maybe if we all ate this dish, we’d have a unanimous A-ha moment about just how good this little green leaf can taste.

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A Light Potato Gratin with Sauteed Spinach & Caramelized Onion

French is a useful language if you want to cast your subject in a more flattering light. Does someone you know have a small chin? They’re not ‘weak-jawed’ in French, but rather they have a ‘fleeting chin,’ a menton fuyant, making them sound like someone who just has a really fun face. It is just as effective to use a French term in English to make something sound like it has more style or class (e.g., cachet) than it does: is something rather unrefined or primitive? Sure, in English you could say it is ‘rustic’ or ‘provincial,’ but if you bust out some French, you could call it ‘rustique’ or ‘provençal,’ which sounds much nicer.

So, enter the remarkably stylish potato casserole gratin. Notably, not potatoes’o’gratin, as I thought they were called when I was young (and thus assumed this was a traditional Irish recipe), but potatoes au gratin.

Take note! A gratin does not have to be heavy with cream, butter, and cheese. Here, I use low-fat milk, just a bit of fat which you could exclude, and only a sprinkling of cheese. Plus, we’re adding spinach. This dish feels luxurious and rich, but is actually rather healthy, depending on how you feel about potatoes!

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End-of-Week Salad

It’s Friday. Let’s make a salad.

You were thinking more burgers and beer?  I was thinking the same thing.

If you change your mind, this salad could make you forget about burgers.  It is hearty and satisfying.

If you want to dream about cooking this rainy weekend, what about pastry? Or knish? Tonight, I’m going to learn how to make knish. Tomorrow, I’ll let you know how it goes.

But for now, the salad.

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Single Lady’s Eggplant

Roasted Eggplant with Salad. Life is good!

We’ve all been there.  At home, alone, meal time. What to have?  A bowl of cereal?  Maybe a salad, but only if the lettuce is already washed?  A bag of frozen french fries warmed to mush in the oven?  What about this Roasted Eggplant dish?  It is almost as easy as cereal, and so much warmer and comforting. Cereal would never give you a hug, but an eggplant would.

Here is everything you need for this dish

This is exactly everything you need for this dish!

Look how delicious roasted eggplants look!

Beautiful, Golden, Roasted Eggplant

If you like, you can make a little sauce or pesto to serve over the eggplant, and you can put a little lettuce beside.  But those are just extras, believe me, I’ve eaten these roasted eggplants unaccompanied, many a time.

A Single Lady’s Roasted Eggplant

inspired by Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food

1 or more eggplants

olive oil

roasting pan


plain yogurt

pesto made of cilantro, spinach, basil, kale, or some combination

a little ground red chili

Put it together

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.  Slice the eggplant in half length-wise.  Pour 1/4-1/2 inch of olive oil into the bottom of a baking dish, and insert the eggplant cut side down.  Roast in the oven for about an hour, checking the eggplant after about 40 mins.  The eggplant is done when it is soft to the touch and the cut side is cooked golden brown.

Remove eggplant and serve one half on a dish, perhaps with a little coarse salt or topped with some plain yogurt or a pesto made from fresh greens.  Here I served it with a dollop of greek style yogurt, a kale and cilantro pesto, and a sprinkle of ground red chili pepper.

To make this pesto, I used a few fresh kale leaves from the garden, rinsed, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped; a few sprigs of cilantro from the garden, rinsed; and a few leaves of spinach, de-stemmed and rinsed.  I threw it all into a blender with a splash of water, a little olive oil, and the juice of half a lemon.  It’s a kale smoothie for your eggplant!  You could add a clove of garlic, some sesame oil, walnuts or pine nuts, grated parmesan cheese.  It’s up to you!

Lettuce & Kale - Straight from the Garden

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