Tag Archives: spinach

Gnocchi bake

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Gnocchi can be tricky. On the pro side, they take only minutes to boil. On the con side, they can be a little unsatisfying, both in quantity and in flavour. They can be just a few little chewy bites and then they’re gone and you’re wondering how they went so fast. Not in this meal! This recipe retains the easiness of gnocchi to make, but then adds in bags of flavour (from the tomatoes) and texture and bulk (from the baked cheese and spinach). I’m converted to team gnocchi. I was considering actually making them from scratch myself, but you need to take a relationship like that one step at a time. Maybe soon I will be ready to take that step.

Ingredients:
800g gnocchi
125g ball lot-fat mozzarella
40g sun dried tomatoes
100g fresh spinach
1 clove garlic

Serves 4
Calories: 370
Takes 25 minutes to make

Stage one: Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C. Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes and chop or crush the clove of garlic.

Stage two: Boil the gnocchi in a big pan until they rise to the top – this will take only a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, put the spinach in a colander. When the gnocchi are cooked, pour the whole pan into the colander – this will wilt the spinach. I love how efficient that is.

Stage three: Tip the gnocchi and spinach into a roasting tin and give them a mix to evenly distribute the spinach. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic and seasoning.

prebakegnocchi

Stage four: Tear up the mozzarella and lay it over the top, and pop in the oven for 20 minutes until the cheese has melted and started to crisp. Serve immediately.

bakedgnoccchi

Spinach, feta and caramelised onion tart

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This tart looks posh and colourful but is surprisingly easy to make. The highlights for me are the cheat’s caramelised onions made in 20 minutes (the secret is balsamic vinegar), and puff pastry. The balsamic onions are great because I generally like to add balsamic vinegar to anything I can, but also they’re quick, easy and beautiful. Nothing was ever going to go wrong with those onions. I want to add them to everything. Pastry is less predictable, but I love making puff pastry because the trick is not to try too hard. Don’t mix in the butter too well. Don’t roll it out too much. Just go with it, pop it in the oven and hope for the best, and ta-da! The sight of the pastry puffing despite my limited pastry making abilities fills me with joy.

Ingredients:
350g puff pastry (buy ready rolled to make your life easy)
2 red onions
100g feta cheese
200g spinach
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp vegetable oil

Serves 4
Calories: 480
Takes about 45 minutes

Stage one: Preheat the oven to 200C/fan180C. Slice the red onions and put them in a pan with 1 tbsp vegetable oil over a medium-low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have gone soft. If they start to burn, lower the heat and add a tbsp water and miraculously everything gets better. After the 10 minutes are up, add the balsamic vinegar and then cook 10 minutes more. They’re going to go the most wonderful red-pinky colour, and taste just like you’ve been caramelising them for hours. But you haven’t! Muahaha. Remove them from the heat.

balsamiconions

Stage two: Put the spinach in a colander, fill and boil the kettle and then pour the boiling water over the spinach to wilt it. Leave the colander in the sink for the spinach to cool and drain.

Stage three: While the spinach is cooling, roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle about the thickness of a pound coin. Fold over the edges to make it look fancy. Brush it with the tsp of vegetable oil, and then put it in the oven for 15 minutes until it’s gone golden and puffed up in the middle. While the pastry is in the oven, squeeze as much water as you can out of the spinach.

provedtart

Stage four: When the pastry is done, gently press the middle down with the back of a spoon. Spread the spinach over the base of the pastry, and then spread the onion over it. Admire the wonderful colours. Finally, crumble the feta over the top, and then pop it in the oven for 10 minutes until the cheese has gone golden. Serve immediately, although it works great cold too!

onionfetatart

Sweet tooth salad

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I have a sweet tooth. My dream three-course meal would be three different desserts. I really only eat main course because I can follow it with pudding, and any way to smuggle sweet things into the main course is a great bonus. This salad is a wonderful solution. Its main ingredient is spinach, so is obviously meant as a main course, but on a number of occasions my guests have requested that it stay out for dessert because of its sweetness and general deliciousness.

I’m loving the strawberries this year! Last year I mostly made this salad using mango, which works really well, but the strawberries marginally beat mango when combined with the sharpness of the dressing. A tip for perfectly sweet berries: take them out of the fridge, wash them, and leave them to come to room temperature for at least 4 hours before serving them. If you’re on a tight budget or don’t have fresh fruit, just grab a big handful of raisins or dried cranberries. It doesn’t make as decadent a salad, but works well enough.

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Ingredients:
200g bag spinach
200g punnet strawberries, thickly sliced
50g caster sugar
50ml white wine vinegar
50ml vegetable oil
1 tsp each poppy seeds and sesame seeds (optional)

Serves 6 as a side
Calories: 125
Takes 5 minutes to make

Put the spinach and strawberries in a salad bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and vinegar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the vegetable oil, mix, and then drizzle over the top of the salad. Finally sprinkle over the seeds, toss and serve. Easy and wonderful!

Thai red curry

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In certain contexts I really love lentils. Basically, they need to not be identifiable as lentils. Red lentils in a curry do this really well – you just cook them until they go soupy and creamy and wonderful. This also solves the problem of how to make a thick but healthy curry sauce. Plus you can adapt this curry to fit whatever you have in your fridge that needs eating. I call that a win.

lentilcurryserve

Ingredients:
250g chestnut mushrooms, halved
200g spinach, washed
200g lentils, washed
1 large white onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
3 tbsp thai red curry paste (or more to taste)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 litre vegetable stock
1/2 can reduced fat coconut milk (OR use the full can and 750ml stock if you want a creamier curry)
serve with rice

Serves 6 medium servings or 4 big servings
Calories: 190 (when serving 6, not including rice)
Takes 30-40 minutes to make

Stage one: Slice the onion and prep the mushrooms and pepper. Then fry the onion in the vegetable oil over a low heat until it is soft and lightly coloured. Add in the pepper, mushrooms, and 2 tbsp of the curry paste, raise the heat to medium-high and fry for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the stock if you’re using fresh stock, or boil the kettle if using powdered/cube stock. Wash the lentils in a seive until the water runs clear.

precoconutmilkmix

Stage two: Add the stock, 1 tbsp more curry paste, and boil. I know you’re meant to reduce it to a simmer immediately after reaching the boil, but I like my lentils really mushy, so I only reduce the heat to medium. Your choice! Leave for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, prepare your rice.

prespinachcurry

Stage three: Stir in the coconut milk. Give it a taste, and add more coconut milk and more curry paste depending on how sweet or how spicy you like your curry. My husband doesn’t like particularly spicy food, so I left it as it was and it still tasted great. Finally, stir in the spinach until it wilts – this will only take a minute. Serve immediately.

spinachlentilcurry

Sun dried tomato and spinach pasta salad

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Sometimes I find myself heading to work at late notice, and I need to make something quick, satisfying and portable to eat. This salad does the trick. It’s got punchy flavours, a nice range of textures and colours, and some bite. You don’t feel sorry for yourself when you get it out because it looks so pretty. Shaking it around in a tupperware as you get from A to B only makes it better.

spinsunpastasalad

Ingredients
300g dried pasta
8 sun dried tomatoes
150g spinach (roughly – as much as you have)
4 tbsp grated vegetarian parmesan
a handful of basil leaves
olive oil
lemon juice
optional extras: toasted pine nuts, capers, fresh tomatoes, avocado, chilli flakes, or really anything you have lying around

Serves 4
Calories: 470
Takes 15 minutes to makeĀ 

Stage one: Fill the kettle and get out the pasta and sun dried tomatoes. I use packet sun dried tomatoes because I find them easier to deal with and store, but that may just be me. I’m telling you this because when the kettle has boiled and you start to boil the pasta, you put sun dried tomatoes from a packet in a ramekin and pour boiling water over them too. This will make the tomatoes plump and go nice and soft, but you don’t need to do this with tomatoes that have been stored in oil. Now leave them to cook/soak.

Stage two: Time to prep all the other ingredients. Wash the spinach and distribute between bowls/tupperwares. Slice the basil. Grate the parmesan. Get out the rest of the ingredients and any added extras. Just before the pasta is done, drain the sun dried tomatoes and roughly chop them.

Stage three: Drain the pasta. Distribute onto the spinach. The sprinkle the tomatoes, basil, parmesan and added extras on top. Drizzle on olive oil (about 1 tbsp per serving) and lemon juice (about 1 tsp per serving), and season.

Spinach and ricotta tart

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This is so not what I had intended to make for dinner. I wanted to make spinach and ricotta gnocchi, but I still have no access to a stove. Actually, this morning there was a glorious hour in which my flat had no gas and no electricity, and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. It seemed necessary to turn to pastry for comfort, and thus dinner. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, though! Those little things like adding thinly sliced raw onion rather than bigger pieces of cooked onion gave the tart colour and texture that I am now going to pretend was deliberate and intended from the start.

For the shortcrust pastry, I used this recipe from BBC good food. It’s lovely and simple and takes about 20 minutes. I’ve never really understood why people are scared to make pastry, because I’m really not a skilled cook but it’s always worked fine for me. Particularly shortcrust. But if you don’t have the time, use 300g ready made shortcrust. I don’t judge, it tastes the same.

bakedspintart

Ingredients:
300g shortcrust pastry
250g ricotta
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 eggs
35g vegetarian parmesan, grated
a handful of basil, torn
200g spinach, washed
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

Serves 4
Calories: 560
Time taken (excluding pastry) is about 20 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to bake.

Stage one: Preheat the oven to 190C/fan170C. Then roll out your pastry until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin, and fit it into a tart case. Line the pastry with greaseproof baking paper and pour baking beans over the top. (If you don’t have baking beans, rice or dried real beans work too.) Pop in the oven for 10 minutes.

Stage two: Fill and boil a kettle. Put all the spinach into a colander, and then pour the boiling water over the spinach so that it wilts. Then pour cold water over the spinach to cool it, stirring it around so that it all cools. Be careful with this bit, because you’re likely to get pockets of heat in the spinach. Squeeze the water out of the spinach as thoroughly as possible, otherwise you will have trouble getting your tart to set. If you like, chop it, which I would imagine will make your tart a lovely green colour. I don’t bother. I like big bits of spinach. This is also the stage when I grated the parmesan and sliced the onion. Slice the onion thinly, or you will end up crunching on big pieces of raw onion.

Stage three: It is now 10 minutes later. Take the tart crust out of the oven and carefully lift out the baking beans on the greaseproof paper. Try not to throw the hot beans everywhere. I’ve done that. It’s a hassle. Put the tart back into the oven for about 5 minutes more, or until the crust has gone a lovely golden colour.

Stage four: Meanwhile, take the spinach, cheese, garlic, eggs, basil and onion and put them in a bowl. Mix really well. I love the way the little bits of red onion look in this mix. Season to taste. When the crust is done, dollop this mixture into the crust and spread it around.

rawspintart

Stage five: Pop everything in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the mix is set. If I could do this again, I would serve it with some sliced tomatoes.

slicedspintart