Category: spinach

Frittata Frittata

Is there anything prettier than a frittata? When done right, this easy meal makes for a stellar sunday brunch centrepiece. The awesome thing about these that the variation possibilities are endless. Veggies, meats, cheeses… Mix and match your favourite combo, arrange it in the dish, pour your egg mixture over it, bake, and voila! Frittata magic.

Some of my favourite variations:

Smoked gouda & figs
Olives, arugula & feta
Pears & brie
Bell peppers, cheddar & mushrooms
Cheddar & apple
Chard & chile

So go ahead, impress your guests & get your frittata on!

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Tomato Frittata
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
6 large eggs
1/4 cup cream (15% or higher)
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 log goat cheese, crumbled
salt, pepper & fresh thyme
oil or butter, for greasing

method
Whisk cornstarch into cream. Whisk eggs with cream mixture until frothy. Mix in goat cheese, spinach and spices. Pour into greased 9″ or 10″ shallow round baking dish. Arrange cherry tomatoes on top. Bake at 325F for about 25 minutes, until eggs are set and no longer runny. Serve hot.

Stewed Chickpeas with Caramelized Sweet Potato

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have written some of the most delicious recipes that I have ever tried. The pair have a way of taking whole foods and transforming them into vibrant, flavourful dishes that absolutely never disappoint. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the duo, they are the co-authors of the Ottolenghi and Jerusalem cookbooks. Ottolenghi has also published two excellent vegetarian books, Plenty, and Plenty More, collections of recipes from his vegetarian newspaper column over at the Guardian. Whenever I’m in need of inspiration, I flip one of these gorgeous books open, scan around, and stop at whatever catches my eye, or whatever suits the vegetables in my fridge. I am in no way affiliated with these authors, and this isn’t a promotion. This is just a little fangirl blogging about her biggest inspirations!

This weekend, I was invited to a very meat-centric potluck dinner, so I felt it appropriate to provide a hearty vegetarian option for those of us who are slightly less carnivorous. I wanted to make something simple, but that had a complex flavour profile. Enter this colourful dish – stewed chickpeas with caramelized sweet potatoes. Sounds simple, but Oh. Baby. I want to eat this stuff all day, erry day. Now, note that you can probably make this vegan by subbing coconut oil for the butter, but really, if there’s ever a time to use butter, that time is now. Replacing it would be, just… well, it would be just OK. It would kinda be like the difference between going to see a Stones cover band, or seeing the actual Rolling Stones. The butter is Mick Jagger. You just won’t get the same satisfaction. (See what I did there? Ok, ok, I’ll get on with it.)

This recipe is a variation of the recipe titled Chickpeas and Spinach with Honeyed Sweet Potato (Ottolenghi, 82.) In the spirit of respecting intellectual property, I always like to give credit to those recipe authors who have inspired me, so, thank you kindly, Ottolenghi & Tamimi. You made my potluck dish a big hit!

Stewed Chickpeas with Caramelized Sweet Potato
serves 3 to 4 people

ingredients
500g sweet potato, cubed
50g salted butter
4 tbsp honey
3 cups water

3 tbsp oil
1 small onion (or about 6 shallots), finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp corriander seeds
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 can (591ml) chopped, unseasoned tomatoes (no salt added is preferable)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp mango powder (found in most spice stores, Indian or Asian grocers, or bulk stores.)
(note: if you can’t find mango powder, 1 tsp of lemon juice or zest will also work.)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups torn spinach (or baby spinach)
2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

cayenne pepper, to taste (use more if you like it spicy!)
salt, to taste

method
In a wide pot, bring water with potatoes, butter and honey to a boil. Lower heat to medium, and continue to cook until water is absorbed and butter & honey start to caramelize. Do not stir.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large frying pan. Add onions or shallots, and cook over medium heat, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and corriander seeds. Continue cooking until onions are brown and have reduced, about 3 more minutes. Add ketchup and stir, scraping any brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add canned tomatoes with their juice. Add ginger, cumin and mango powder. Stir well. When mixture starts to bubble, add chickpeas and spinach. Continue to cook until mixture starts to thicken. Add cilantro after about 10 minutes. Taste, and add salt as needed. Add cayenne , a little at a time, until you’ve reached your preferred level of heat. By this time, your potatoes should be ready, or almost there. Once they are, pour them into the pan, along with their buttery juices. Scrape as much of the browned butter into the pan as possible. Give it one nice, gentle stir.

Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro.

Mediterranian Escape (Couscous with Kale and Feta)

Cheese – it’s my biggest weakness. Cheese is the reason I haven’t been able to stay on vegan wagon. Cheese is also the reason that I look forward to coming home after work. There’s something so comforting about letting a nice piece of aged cheddar melt on my tongue. Have you ever tasted a dish and thought to yourself “Mm, this is good, but it could use a little something!” HOLD THAT SALT SHAKER! I’ve seen so many people just salt up their bland dishes. You’re doing it wrong. My friends, cheese is often the answer to those blah-dish-woes.

Feta cheese in particular has a special place in my heart – growing up, my mother often made Greek-style salads to go along with our summer meals – the saltiness created a perfect balance with the acidic tomatoes and the refreshing cucumbers. Unfortunately, feta has always been salad-zoned in my kitchen. I’ve always found that the salt and the strong taste often overpower other flavours, so I’ve shyed away from using it in anything other than, well, a salad!

And then, this recipe came to me in the most recent issue of Canadian Living: curried spinach and kale hand pies with feta. An interesting combination, I thought, so I tried them out – omitting the turmeric and replacing it with cinnamon.  My, oh my, what a pie! Unfortunately, I miscalculated the amount of greens mixture that I needed for the filling, and found myself with a pretty substantial bowl of spinach and cheese mixture that I couldn’t bear to toss. So I kept it, thinking the leftovers would inspire me. And that, they did! I stacked them on top of a bowl of plain couscous that I was keeping for a quick snack/dinner and when I opened my fridge this evening, the combination seemed perfect!

This is a hearty meal, perfect for the type of weather we’ve been seeing here lately – oh, and for those of you not in Montreal, just picture the most disgusting wintery mix of slush and sleet and ice and everything cold and wet that you can muster, and you’ve got a pretty accurate representation of our outdoor conditions. So here, I present to you, Couscous with Kale and Feta.

Cousous with Kale and Feta
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 bunch kale, finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese*
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 cup plain couscous, cooked according to package directions
Kalamata olives for garnish, if desired

how to do it
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (Do not fill all the way to top as you need room for the kale!) Toss in kale and garlic, until kale becomes bright green (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and drain well. toss into large skillet brushed with olive oil, and heat over medium until mixture begins to reduce and water is almost all evaporated. Add mint, oregano and cinnamon, mixing well. Add the couscous to the pan, a little at a time, until it is all combined. Add feta just before serving. Garnish with olives, and another drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!

*If you can find it, buy yourself some feta marinated in oil. There is a brand called Apetina that is in my opinion the tastiest feta that you can get at a conventional grocery store. If not, go to the cheese counter and ask for Greek feta, Goat feta, or Double Cream feta. (If you’re in Montreal, the absolute best place to get your feta is Adonis!)

Spring Fresh (Avocado & Mango Salad)

I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my warmest welcome to my most desired season: springtime. While blooming flowers begin to paint the city with their limitless palette and scent the warming air with their intoxicating perfume, while the days get longer and the skirts get shorter, and while the sunshine begins to lend my chalky skin a warm glow, my two favorite elements of springtime are, unsurprisingly, food-related. 



My favorite part of spring? Visiting the outdoor farmers’ markets to obtain fresh, local produce, and planting my vegetable & herb garden. (Harvesting my own garden is my favorite part of Summer, but we’ll get to that when it happens.) This year, I’m trying something new: a balcony garden. As many of you may have experienced, urban living often comes with the sacrifice of a yard. However, inspired by a friend of mine, I’ve decided to be more proactive about where my food comes from and have decided that a little lack of terrain will not stop me from relishing the joy of harvesting my own veggies at home! 

As it’s the first time I’ll be doing this, I’m keeping it quite simple, with an assortment of herbs, some lettuces and, (my favorite) yellow cherry tomatoes. If you have any advice on balcony gardening, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment here or on my facebook page. 

Until my garden grows, I’ll be getting my fresh produce at the markets, where it seems as though each week something new is in season, which is an encouraging way to consume variety and enjoy fresh flavours at their peak!

A recent pot-luck dinner that I’d attended showcased a delightfully refreshing mango salad, and it inspired me to add some variety to my routine mixed greens. Today, I wandered over to the market, where I was further inspired to throw this fantastical salad together. The following is a recipe that I’m going to be making about one million times this summer. Once you try it, you likely will be repeating it, too. 

The list of ingredients alone are enough to make any foodie drool: Mangoes. Avocadoes. Radishes. Mâche.  An odd combination, perhaps in your mind. But in your mouth, I assure you, it is like no salad that’s ever grazed your lips.

Oh, and to top it off, a nutmeg balsamic dressing. 
Yeah. That’s right. Nutmeg. 
Crazy you say? 
Delicious, actually. 

Note: if you cannot find mache in your area, it can be replaced with watercress or dandelion greens.


Avocado Mango Salad with Nutmeg
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need (serves 2)

salad:
3 ripe medium-sized avocadoes (1 cup, diced)
3 or 4 ripe medium-sized mangoes (about 1.5 cups, diced)
1 cup chopped baby spinach
2 cups mâche
10 medium radishes, slivered thin

dressing:
3 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dry mustard/mustard powder
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup light olive oil
2 tsp sea salt

how to do it
Combine all dressing ingredients into pouring cup. Whisk until well blended.
Combine mache and spinach. Toss with dressing. Lightly toss in radishes, mangoes and avocado. (Do not toss too much, as avocadoes will turn to cream!)
Enjoy immediately. 
Preferably on a nice spring day. 







Mushroom & Spinach Tart with Walnut Sauce

This post will be short and sweet savory, so I’ll just get straight to the point:
walnut sauce blows my mind.

A little while back, I had mentionned how I went to a restaurant where I was introduced to this mouth-watering delight served over linguine. I came home deciding that I would make this one day too. However, I decided that I needed to do more than just copy what had been served to me. I needed to take it up a notch. So I asked myself this: “how can I make something rich and creamy even more decadent?” And then it dawned upon me: put it on top of puff pastry. Win. Win all around.

Spinach & Mushroom Tart with Walnut Sauce
an original recipe by Allison Sklar

ingredients 
•    1 package puff pastry, thawed
•    1 cup spinach leaves
•    1 cup mushrooms, sliced
•    ½ onion, sliced finely
•    1 cup cream
•    ½ tbsp cornstarch (optional)
•    ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
•    1 clove garlic, chopped
•    1 cup walnuts, toasted and crushed

method
Toast walnuts and then crush them as finely as possible. (This is best done in a food processor, but can be done by placing them into a plastic bag and hammering out with a heavy can).  In a small saucepan, combine nuts with cream, cornstarch, garlic and cheese. Continue cooking over medium heat until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. Sautee spinach, onion and mushrooms in butter until softened. While spinach and mushrooms cook, roll out puff pastry.  Fold over edges of pastry slightly, to create a border. Top with spinach and mushroom mixture. Cover with sauce. Top with a few walnut pieces. (If desired, brush pastry with egg whites or with melted butter.)
Bake at 375 for 12 minutes or until pastry is golden.