Friday, March 27, 2009

Food Week Q & A (Recipes: Spinach-Related Dinners)

Jen said... about the picture of Owen & Kyle sauteing (I have no idea how to spell that) baby spinach in garlic and olive oil--do you have a recipe that goes with the spinach, or do you just eat the spinach itself as a side dish? Thanks---I'm always looking for new things I can make w/spinach!
Dear Jen (and this is not my college roommate Jen, this is a different Jen that I have never met IRL but who I love and admire nonetheless): Since you are one of my favorite readers I am going to give you three spinach-related dinner meals that we LOVE and eat often in this house!!! You just won the spinach jackpot my friend! You can make these for some of your med school friends and talk about the importance of folate/vitaminB/folic acid! ;)
And Patricia (Patricia is a dear, dear, dear friend from grad school who we know IRL and love IRL)... The second recipe is for you my dear! :)
Our Favorite 'Meat & Potatoes' Dinner
I've mentioned that K & O are not meat-and-potatoes types. Braydon and I aren't really, either. But we do love a good meal like that from time to time. And this one is our absolute favorite. Pork is, by far, the boys' favorite meat. You need a grill for this, but if you don't have one, just bake the pork according to the directions on the package. The spinach that you saw K & O sauteeing was for this meal one night recently. And you can't forget the applesauce! You can use store-bought in a pinch, but this homemade version is super easy and quick... Braydon and I don't even want to have grilled pork unless we can have it with applesauce! We eat this in the fall and winter, and for us, it just isn't officially fall until we've eaten this dinner a couple of times. The four things -- the grilled pork, apple sauce, the fresh sauteed spinach, and the mashed potatoes -- just seem to go perfectly together (at least in my book they do!). Here you go (this should serve 4 adults) ~~

1 package of lean pork loin (you buy this, in vacuum-sealed plastic package, in the meat/butcher section; the one I buy has two pork loins in the package).
1 big container of fresh baby spinach (or at least 2 bags of it from the bagged salad area of the produce section)
potatoes (to make this super quick, I sometimes buy the microwavable bag of little/baby/new potatoes in the produce area)
dry rub BBQ seasoning (my favorite is Sticky Fingers)
olive oil
salt, pepper
butter, sour cream, milk -- or whatever you like to make mashed potatoes.
apples, peeled and cored and chopped
cinnamon and sugar

Grilled Pork: Preheat the grill. Prepare the pork by rubbing a generous amoung of the dry BBQ rub all over the pork loins. Place on grill. Grill until done. Let sit for a couple of minutes before you slice it to serve.

Sauteed Spinach: Heat up a wok or the largest saute pan you have to medium-high heat. Add about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, all of the spinach (it seems like a lot but it wilts down to almost nothing!), 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic. Season generously with salt and pepper. Keep the spinach moving in the wok/pan until just wilted (tender but still a little firm-- don't let it get too wilted or it isn't as yummy). Serve immediately!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes: [you can do mashed potatoes any way you want, obviously... but here is my quick/easy weeknight-in-a-rush recipe for garlic mashed potatoes...] Follow directions on the bag of potatoes and microwave until done. In a small saute pan, heat up about 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When butter is melted, add 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic. Cook garlic until just barely cooked through (not too brown). Dump cooked potatoes into a serving bowl. Mash with potato masher. Stir in butter/olive oil/garlic mixture. Add milk until desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (If you feel like splurging add a big dallop of sour cream and/or more butter). Serve immediately!

Apple Sauce: Place all of the chopped apples in a pan with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. [Note: the smaller the chunks of apples, the quicker this will take to cook]. Add cinnamon and sugar to taste (the J-M boys like lots of cinnamon and very little sugar). Cook over medium heat, stirring occassionally, until apples are broken down and the apple sauce has reached the desired consistency (the J-M boys like it mushy but still chunky). Serve warm with the pork.
Spinach Salad
This recipe comes from my mom and I don't know where it originated. I grew up eating it and have loved it my whole life. It remains a steady fav around here, especially in late fall and winter. K & O love it and Owen sometimes requests it ("the sweet dressing"). Serve it with crusty bread and white wine as a perfectly terrific dinner or a hearty lunch (I often serve this to guests because everyone loves it). Not much is better than this!

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs worchestershire sauce
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
-->Mix all together in jar and shake well.

fresh raw baby spinach
hard boiled eggs, chopped
bacon, fully cooked and chopped
grated sharp cheddar cheese
sliced fresh button mushrooms
red pepper, celery, and any other veggies you want to add
-->Toss all together, adding as much dressing as desired. Serve immediately.
Spinach & White Bean Pasta
This is a recipe I made up based on a pasta dish I used to love at one of our favorite restaurants when we lived in Charleston, SC. The restaurant was this wonderful little place called Celia's Porta Via. Even though the last time I ate at Celia's Porta Via was in 1995, we eat this pasta dish regularly around here -- especially in late winter and spring.
1 box penne
1-2 bags of fresh baby spinach (depending on how much you love spinach! we use 2 full bags)
1 can of white beans (cannellini beans/white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
red pepper flakes
good white wine
about 2/3 cup of chicken stock or chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want to keep the recipe vegetarian)
freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
salt, pepper, dried oregano
fresh parsley, finely chopped
Fresh parmesan cheese

Cook penne in boiling, salted water. While penne is cooking, heat up large saute pan to medium-low heat and add about 1-2 tablespoons butter with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once butter is melted, add garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes (I usually add a small pinch; add as much as you want depending on how much spicy heat you like). Stir occasionally cooking until onion is translucent. Add about 1/2 cup of the wine, the chicken broth, and the lemon juice. Season generously with salt, pepper, and oregano. Add white beans, stir gently. Once beans are heated through and some of the wine mixture has cooked down, add a big handful of the fresh chopped parsley. Turn off heat and let sit. Meanwhile, when pasta is just one minute from being done, dump all of the spinach into the pot. Let cook for a minute (literally! just until the spinach is barely wilted in the pot of water and pasta). Drain pasta and spinach, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss pasta and spinach with the white bean mixture. If dry, add some of the cooking liquid and/or more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.


Jen said...

THANK YOU!! I can't wait to try out all of these recipes....I've been a vegetarian for years and years and I love love LOVE finding new veggie recipes that I can make!! (including the first meat & potatoes recipe...I'll make the salad and potatoes and just substitute some sort of grilled/baked tofu for the pork). the spinach & white bean pasta sounds AMAZING...I think I'm going to make that one first.

Katie said...

We made the white bean and spinach pasta last night and it was terrific! We also added sliced mushrooms (I LOVE mushrooms). Thanks for the recipe. It was easy too!