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spinach_tortellini_soup.jpgGwendolyn's was my favorite cafe in Panama City, serving sandwiches, homemade ice cream, and a beloved rotation of homemade soups. They closed a year or so ago and I've moved a couple times, but I still have cravings for their best soup: Spinach Tortellini. This is my attempt at recreating it, done by feel since the owners have yet to release their secret recipes. Tip: cook bone-chicken breasts (using for example this stovetop recipe) the night before making this soup and use the bones to flavor the broth. It really helps intensify the flavor if you don't have time to make homemade stock (I never do).

1 onion, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch chard or other leafy green, chopped
4-6 c. chicken broth
leftover chicken bones - with some meat attached
1/2 package frozen chopped spinach
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 lb. cheese tortellini
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 tbs fresh oregano, chopped fine
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, celery, and chard stem pieces. Saute until the onion turns translucent and just begins to brown, then add the chard leaves. Saute until wilted (just a few minutes) and then add the chicken broth, chicken bones, frozen spinach and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then simmer around an hour or so until the broth becomes flavorful from the chicken bones. Remove chicken bones, add tomatoes and tortellini, and bring to a boil. The soup is done when the tortellini is cooked through.

cornbreadsalad_sm.jpgA great filling salad with three types of greens and a creamy buttermilk lime dressing with a hint of honey. Cornbread croutons add crunch and a southern flair.

Cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes
Lettuce
Arugula
Spinach
Tomatoes, chopped
Buttermilk-Lime Dressing (below)

Preheat oven to 250°. Scatter the corn bread in a single layer on a half-sheet pan and bake until the pieces are lightly toasted, about 7 minutes.

Place lettuce, greens, 3 cups of toasted corn bread and tomatoes to a large bowl and toss to combine. Drizzle with buttermilk dressing, season with salt and pepper, and toss again. Serve immediately.

Buttermilk-Lime Dressing

3/4 cups buttermilk
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (1 1/2 limes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2-1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil or cilantro
1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely minced green onions
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until combined. Can covered tightly and stored in the fridge up to two days.

Original recipe


Still my favorite way to each butternut squash: roasted with walnuts and cranberries in maple syrup & tossed in an apple cider vinaigrette over spinach.

1 (1½-pound) butternut squash, peeled and ¾-inch) diced
good olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
½ cup walnuts halves
¾ cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces baby arugula or spinach, washed and spun dry
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries and walnuts to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about ¼ cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, ½ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Original recipe
Quite possibly the most complicated sandwich I've ever made, but yummy nonetheless. Be sure to use a good balsamic vinegar since the flavor is pretty strong in the dish.

1 teaspoon olive oil
2-3 cups halved cherry tomatoes (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (16-ounce) loaf French bread, cut in half horizontally
3 ounces Brie cheese, sliced
3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups fresh spinach
Preheat oven to 300°.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes; cook 4 minutes, stirring once. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons vinegar. Sprinkle tomatoes with thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Wrap handle of pan with foil; bake at 300° for 15 minutes. Keep warm.

Combine mayonnaise, mustard, and garlic in a small bowl. Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over top half of bread loaf. Spoon tomatoes evenly over bottom half of loaf. Arrange Brie over tomatoes; top with chicken. Combine 2 teaspoons oil, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add spinach, tossing gently to coat. Top chicken with spinach mixture; replace top half of bread. Cut loaf into 6 pieces.

For toasted sandwiches (recommended):
Assemble without mayo spread or spinach. Toast in 400° oven. Add mayo spread and spinach, serve.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 440 (25% from fat)
Fat: 12.3g (sat 4.2g,mono 4.9g,poly 1.9g)

Original recipe

Light, sweet salad with addictive candied walnuts

Lettuce or spinach
Craisins
crisp apples
Orange juice (enough to toss apples in to prevent browning and add a little flavor)
cheese (Parmesan, Feta, goat, etc)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. sugar
Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette:
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. honey
1-2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (really, that's pretty optional; it all goes in the blender)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 c. olive oil
Dressing:
In a blender, combine vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. Place lid on blender and blend on high. While blender is running, add oil in a steady stream. Store in refrigerator for about 2-3 weeks. Shake well before serving.

Candied Walnuts:
combine walnuts and sugar in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly. After a few minutes, the sugar will look very fine and then a few minutes after that, it will start to liquefy. This is when you have to be absolutely vigilant about scraping the bottom of the skillet and making sure everything gets stirred around. The syrup will begin to darken and will coat the nuts. When they reach a golden brown color, remove from heat. Stir occasionally as the nuts begin to cool. After a few minutes, spread candied nuts onto a greased piece of parchment or wax paper or a greased cookie sheet and allow to cool completely. Set aside.

Salad:
Chop apples and toss in orange juice
When ready to serve, toss lettuce, cranberries, walnuts, apples, and cheese in a large bowl. Add dressing if desired; it really is better all mixed together rather than on top, but the dressing will wilt any leftovers.

Original recipe
smIMG_5545.jpg
A hearty lunch salad. Top with leftover shredded roasted chicken or other lean meat and it's a well rounded meal.

Yield:  2-3 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Salad:
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 med peeled sweet potato, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 orange, sectioned and chopped
1/4 cup vertically sliced red onion (optional)
3 tablespoons nuts, toasted (pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, etc)
1 (6-ounce) bag prewashed baby spinach

Mustard-Citrus Dressing:
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
3.5 tablespoon rice vinegar
.5-1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp orange zest

Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare salad, combine first 4 ingredients, tossing well. Place potato mixture on a jelly-roll pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400° for 30- 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven; cool. Combine potato mixture, orange sections, onion(if using), nuts, and spinach in a large bowl.

To prepare dressing, combine orange juice and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat.

CALORIES 160 (30% from fat); FAT 5.3g (sat 3.2g,mono 1g,poly 0.8g); IRON 1.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 59mg; CARBOHYDRATE 27g; SODIUM 101mg; PROTEIN 2.9g; FIBER 4.1g

Original Recipe