Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘spinach’ Category

 

Manicotti Spinach Ricotta

Manicotti are much larger than cannelloni and therefore much, much easier to stuff.  Personally, I approach the whole stuffing process with joyless abandon.  Not for me the delicate process of cake forks and backs of teaspoons to get the stuffing in the tubes; it’s a roll up the sleeves, hands in the bowl affair in my kitchen.  Although, I must confess, it was the ever resourceful Mr P who beat the prissy out of me one afternoon and a cannelloni stuffing competition, which he won hands down, if you’ll forgive the pun and since then I’ve followed his example.

This is a lighter version of the usual pasta al fourno, foregoing the buttery bechemel in favour of an extra wop of tomato sauce.  And that tomato sauce comes out of a jar, mind you.  I don’t think I’ll be the type to be making bathtubs of my own tomato sauce any day soon and a good quality jar of ye olde tomato sauce does the trick perfectly.

*I used provolone on the top because it’s what I had on hand, but a good mozzarella would be wonderful as well.

** This recipe makes a full lasagna dish worth, enough for 4 – 6 people, so divide proportionately if you want, although it makes great left overs and freezes well too.

Manicotti Spinach Ricotta2

Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti with Sundried Tomatoes and Olives 

Olive oil
1 Onion (I used spanish red) finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch spinach (about 250g), washed and chopped
¼ tsp Garam Masala
½ tsp Nutmeg
10 sundried tomatoes (in oil), drained and chopped
2 Tbsp ground flax
⅓ cup black olives, chopped (I used little nicoise)
½ cup pine nuts
500g ricotta, drained
salt and white pepper to taste
1 jar tomato pasta sauce (I used tomato and basil)
provolone and parmesan, grated – enough to cover dish

– heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute onions and garlic until tender. Add spices and cook until fragrant.

– add spinach in batches, to reduce size, and saute until wilted.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.

– transfer spinach mix to a large mixing bowl, add tomatoes, flax, olives, pine nuts and mix well.

– mix in ricotta with a wooden spoon, breaking it up as you go to form a creamy mess.  Season to taste.

– butter a large casserole or lasagna dish and pre-heat the oven to 350˚F

– spread about ⅓ tomato sauce on bottom of dish.

– stuff each manocotti with spinach filling and place on tomato sauce base.  Continue until dish is full.

– top dish with the rest of the tomato sauce and top with the two cheeses.

– bake in the oven for 45 mins, until pasta is tender.

Manicotti Spinach Ricotta3

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Bell Peppers, multicoloured

Peppers!

Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew. Did you ever, as a child, put an entire hard boiled egg in your mouth at a picnic, and then sit there (knowing your Mother could see you) and realise you couldn’t spit it out, abut couldn’t chew and swallow it all either? Oh the dilemma.

I was irresistibly lured to a table at Saturday’s market covered in punnets of brightly coloured sweet bell peppers. Poor Mr P already had the glazed over eyes of a pet chihuahua being dressed up in frills again, when I spotted them down the isle and uttered a wee whoop of excitement. So, to inspire a second wind of Excitement and Vigour for all things shopping, I sold the idea of buying yet more produce to have to lug home by mentioning some magic words: Stuffed Peppers, and, Minced Beef. Oh, that brought the twinkle back long enough to persuade him to help find the prettiest and shiniest peppers by far.

But now I was committed, through the Kharmic backlash of my own desire for all things shiny, to actually make the damn things. I decided against the mince in the end, simply because we’d had quite the culinary weekend and I felt like something more, well, simple really. Of course, having not made stuffed peppers in many a year, I’d forgotten just how long they take to make, the results of which were that we only ended up eating our dinner at ten last night! Well, at least it was good. And shiny.

Note on the recipe: I used 3 anchovy fillets in the recipe, but in retrospect it could have used an extra 3.

Bell Peppers Stuffed With Wild Rice, Tomatoe, Chard, Anchovy and Olives

Sweet Bell Peppers stuffed with Wild Rice and a Mediteranian Medley

Wild rice to make 1 cup when cooked (I used ⅓ cup grain)

4 medium sized bell peppers

2 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 large tomatoes, chopped
Small bunch Swiss chard, 5 or 6 stems, chopped
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
handful finely chopped Italian parsley
about ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
80 ml grated parmigiana or Parmesan
salt and ground black pepper to taste

about 1 cup chicken stock

– start by putting the rice on to cook and pre heating the oven to 380˚F (wild rice can take longer to cook, mine took 45mins) when done, remove from heat and set aside.

– carefully slice the tops off the peppers, keeping them intact. remove all the seeds and inner squishy stuff. Wash inside and out and put aside.

– heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add shallots and garlic. Saute until translucent.

– add tomato paste, cook stirring for a few seconds then add tomatoes and swiss chard. Allow to cook until soft, about 7 or so minutes. Remove from heat

– In a large mixing bowl, mix rice, tomato sauce and the rest of the ingredients (excluding the stock), leaving about 2 Tbsp of the cheese aside.

– season to taste.

– arrange peppers bottom down in a greased, oven proof dish. Fill with rice mixture, sprinkle with remaining cheese and place tops on top.

– pour stock into the dish and bake for about 1 hour in the oven, basting with the stock every 20 mins to keep the veg moist on top.

Bell peppers

Read Full Post »

pot of peas

I seem to talk a lot about my childhood food experiences in this blog. I suppose that’s because so much of what we are and what we eat stems from those formative years and the experiences we had there. For years after I left home I held a sad abhorrence for a simple peanut butter sandwich, simply because I was given one to eat at school almost very nearly every single day. Only recently I rediscovered the pleasure of fresh, soft bread, spread thick with butter, peanut butter and oozing honey. And, true to my nature, I ate them so frequently upon this discovery, that my denims soon began to miraculously shrink in the wash until one day, getting dressed, I asked my Mr P, while staring down at my posterior, ‘do you think I’m putting on weight?’ And in true Mr P candid style, he promptly looked up from his book, ran his eyes up and down me and replied, ‘ yes.’ After which he carried on reading as if nothing more important than whether he wanted muesli or oats for breakfast had been discussed. Which, of course, is why I am so enamoured with this man in the first place.

I remember that peas were a staple in our family. There were always a couple of bags of the frozen variety on hand and they would be chucked unceremoniously into so many one pot meals my mother would cook up. My mom was cook of convenience, speed and nutrition, seeing as how she was juggling family, work and cleaning the dishes after it all. So, somewhere along the line I began thinking of peas with disdain and stopped buying, cooking or even thinking about these simple green globes. And then, a couple of days ago, I walked past a bag of fresh, shelled, organic peas. Tiny, bright green and somehow translucent looking, they caught my eye and for reasons I really can’t explain, I bought them. And there they were. On the counter. What on earth was I going to do with them? I popped one in my mouth. Then another. And suddenly, I was five years old, helping my dear granny in her pride and joy: her veggie patch.

I loved my granny’s veggie patch. There was a big bush of mint that grew under the tap, and patches of pumpkins, marrows and tomatoes. I loved the carrots, their soft green tops and the juicy, sweet roots. But what I loved the most were the peas. We used to get into trouble for picking them all and eating them before Gran could pick them for the kitchen. So sweet! So crunchy! My love affair with peas, I fear, has only just begun.

Salad of spinach, red pepper, red pearl onions, peas and goats cheese
Spinach salad with peas and goats cheese

 

Read Full Post »

Asparagus, spinach and Danish Blue cheese tart

A little something for lunch.

During the Summer, here in Toronto, there’s a Farmer’s Market on a Tuesday afternoons in the Trinity Bellwoods Park. I popped in a week ago and bought all sorts of fresh, seasonal and organically grown produce. Stuff thathasn’t been sitting in a van for a day on it’s way to a store, stuff that hasn’t been packaged in useless, throw-away, environmentally infriendly packaging. Despite the fact that today’s show was rained out by a tremendous, cleansing thunderstorm, I had wanted to make sure I had used up all the remainders before restocking. Voila, a gorgeous, easy little set of quiche-style tarts to eat for lunch, or a starter for a Summer picnic in the park.

Asparagus, Spinache and Danish Blue Quiche

1 Portion of whole wheat savory tart shell pastry

15 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp butter
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped (about 300g)
1/2 tsp castor sugar
salt and pepper
15 ml plain flour
4 large eggs
3 tbsp crem frais
280 ml low fat milk
100g Danish Blue cheese
60 ml grated Parmesan

-Heat oven to 375˚F

-Make pastry ; blind bake individual tarts ; cool

-Heat oil and butter gently in a skillet and sautè onion and garlic until translucent, about 5 mins. Add spinach and thyme and sugar and cook another 5 mins until soft. Let cool slightly.

-Beat eggs, crem frais and milk in a large bowl

-Fold flour into spinach mix, season to taste ; mix into egg mixture

-stir in aparagus, blue cheese and half parmesan

-fill tart shells with mixture, sprinkle with remaining parmesan and bake ±30 mins until set

Read Full Post »