Antipasto Spinach Pasta Salad


Hello all– What is the easiest, freshest, yummiest way to have friends in for dinner in the summer??  A big bunch of Bible study friends came couple weeks ago for a salad/dessert pot luck.  As they trickled in the door, brimming bowls of chicken salad and fresh fruit and Asian slaw… lined up in the kitchen.  Plus pies– beautiful pies!

We sat down with plates full and settled into easy conversation that you have with old friends.  Love a summer evening with these ladies.

And this was my salad contribution– so much flavor from the sun dried tomatoes and garlicky salami, played against chewy pasta and creamy fresh mozzarella.  I think it would be good on your summer able too.

ANTIPASTO SPINACH PASTA SALAD
8 oz. Cellentani pasta (or your favorite pasta)*
salt
3 cups spinach leaves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/3 cup red onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 cup cured olives
1 cup fresh mozzarella balls (or cubed)
4 oz. salami, cut to pieces
14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed

Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup parmesan romano cheese, grated
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package (mine was 11 minutes in boiling water).  Drain, rinse and cool the pasta to room temperature in a large bowl.

Add in the spinach, red, pepper, red onion, dried tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, salami and garbanzo beans.

To make the dressing, put the olive oil, white balsamic, cheese and salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake well until it’s all blended.  Pour over the salad and mix to coat all the ingredients with dressing.

Stick it into the fridge until you’re ready to serve it up!

*I used Barilla Cellentani in the blue box– nice and chewing and soaks up the dressing.

Blueberry Broccoli Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing


Hello there– Dinner last night was out under the maple tree– chicken enchiladas, beans and this salad– with the MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) Moms.  I can’t remember laughing so much…!  And amazing stories (Lisa!!) of births and love and life with kids!!

Loved the salad– easy and pretty healthy (to balance out the sour cream enchiladas and chocolate cake!)  And you can throw it together in about 10 minutes.  Add chicken and it would be a perfect summer supper.

BLUEBERRY BROCCOLI SPINACH SALAD WITH POPPY SEED DRESSING

Salad:
5 cups baby spinach
1 large heat broccoli, cut to bits
1  cup blueberries
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 dried cherries (or cranberries)

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar (or your favorite vinegar)
1 tab. sugar or honey
1 tsp. poppy seeds
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Layer the spinach and other salad ingredients into a pretty bowl.

In a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the oil, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt & pepper until they are all thoroughly blended.  Pour over the salad when you are ready to serve it up.  Enjoy!

Italian Turkey Sausage & Spinach Lasagna

Hi there — Some men in our church built a sleek, beautiful long table this spring.  It’s being used for a series of “family” dinners.  Anyone can reserve the table for an evening and invite 14 people to come sit around together over dinner.  It’s gone on for weeks, night after night.  There’s a fire in a fireplace and flowers on the table.  But the best is the unhurried conversation, a chance to sit together in the middle of the week.

This week I joined in for dinner with our young adult group friends.  It was pot luck and this was my contribution.  Hearty and hot from the oven, I think you’d like at your table too.

ITALIAN TURKEY SAUSAGE & SPINACH LASAGNA
1 pound Italian turkey sausage
2  28 oz jars of marinara sauce*
1 package no cook lasagna noodles*
16 oz. ricotta
4 cups mozzarella, grated
4 cups spinach, chopped to shreds (about 5 oz.)

Cook the sausage in a deep skillet, chopping it to crumbles with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Drain any excess fat.  Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce into a 9″x 13″ baking dish and then pour the rest of the 2 jars of sauce in with the cooked sausage.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with the uncooked lasagna noodles.  Spoon little dollops of ricotta over the noddles (using about 1/3 of the carton of ricotta).  Sprinkle on a cup of the chopped spinach.  Ladle 1/4 of the meat & sauce over that.  And finish it of with a cup of grated mozzarella.

Do that same layering 2 more times.

For the top, add one more layer of noodles, 1 cup of spinach, the rest of the sauce and the last cup of mozzarella.

Cover the baking dish with foil (tenting it so it doesn’t touch the cheese) and pop it into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake it 5 to10 minutes longer until the cheese is beautifully melted.

Let the lasagna sit for 10 minutes to set before you cut into it.  Delish with a bright salad and a chunk of sturdy bread.  Enjoy!

Chicken & Sweet Potato with Peanut Sauce

Hey all– Do you have evenings when you’ve been over-indulging all week and just want something healthy and fast that you can just throw on to a plate??  This is really more like a salad where you just pile things up– not really much cooking. .  It was hearty and satisfying — and I’ll pretty much eat anything if you drizzle some peanut sauce on top!

CHICKEN & SWEET POTATO WITH PEANUT SAUCE
1 cup brown rice
1/3 tsp. salt
1 sweet potato, peeled, cut into bits
4 tab. olive oil –divided
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 boneless chicken breast
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tab. cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Peanut sauce:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tab. soy sauce
2 tab. peanut butter
2 tab. olive oil

Cook the brown rice with 2 1/4 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Peel and cut the sweet potato.  Mix it with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt & pepper.  Spread the sweet potato bits on a baking sheet and bake it all at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sweet potato is tender.

While that’s baking.  Heat 2 tab. of the olive oil in a skillet. Filet the chicken breast, slicing horizontally to make two flat pieces.  Cook them 3 or 4 minutes on each side until the chicken is browned and cooked through.  Remove from the heat and cut in slices.

To make the sauce, whisk together the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter and olive oil until it’s creamy and smooth.

When the rice is done and the sweet potato is cooked, pile half the rice on each of two plates.  Top with the slices of chicken, a pile of sweet potato and a bed of spinach.  Garnish with the avocado and cilantro.  Drizzle on a little sauce and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.  (makes enough for two platefuls).

Turkey Spinach Burgers

Hi there–We have the custom around here to eat Monday night dinner in front of the t.v. — watching “Next Food Network Star” that we recorded on Sunday evening.  Are you watching too??  Who do you think will win it??  We have our favorites!!

So tonight with our serving of t.v., we dug into these Turkey Spinach Burgers, hot from the stove.  They have a whole cup of spinach in each burger and the onions, cumin, garlic and lots of salt & pepper flavor the turkey just fine.  I think you’d like them as much as we did.

TURKEY SPINACH BURGERS
4 cups spinach, chopped, stems removed
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 tsp. cumin
salt & freshly ground pepper
2-3 tab. olive oil
4 hamburger buns
fixings: tomato, onion, lettuce, pickles, mayo, ketchup…

Put the chopped spinach, sliced green onion, minced garlic, turkey and cumin into a mixing bowl. Squish it all together with your hands (or with a fork it you want to be tidy).  Form 4 hamburger patties.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Put the hamburgers into the skillet.  Liberally salt & pepper the 4 patties as they cook, about 4 minutes on each side on medium high heat.  (Resist the temptation to squish them flatter with your spatula).

Serve them up hot on buns with all the fixings!

Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna

img_4750

Hello all–I know you’re maybe thinking ahead to Christmas (we put up our tree last night–all those beloved, slightly tattered ornaments coming out of boxes– love it!),  but I wanted to send out one more Thanksgiving-ish recipe before it’s all sugar cookies and Christmas hams.

My extended family meet up for Thanksgiving the weekend ahead.  We don’t do turkey. We’ll all have turkey with other in-laws on Thanksgiving day.  This year it was a couple kinds of lasagna.  And I like this veggie laden version–cheesy and a bit sweet from the butternut squash.  It was a fine Thanksgiving meal at the table with my mom and assorted nieces and nephews…  (and we did finish off with pumpkin pie!)

BUTTERNUT SQUASH & SPINACH LASAGNA

1 smallish butternut squash
3 tab. olive oil
garlic salt & freshly ground pepper
4 cups shredded spinach leaves
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup parmesan romano
3 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
9 no-cook lasagna noodles (Barilla is good)
1 cup parmesan romano
1 cup ricotta
2 cups mozzarella

Peel the butternut squash and remove the seeds.  Then chop it into smallish chunks.  In a bowl mix the butternut squash chunks with 3 tablespoons olive oil, a few shakes of garlic salt and a few grinds of freshly ground pepper. Spread the squash on a baking sheet and scrape the oil out of bowl over the squash.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until the squash just starts to brown around the edges.

While that’s cooking, wash and dry the spinach leaves, remove stems and cut them to shreds.

To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a large skillet and then stir in the flour and parmesan before it browns.  Stir in the milk 1/2 cup at a time with a whisk to reduce lumps.  Continue until all the milk is combined and then simmer on low 3 or 4 minutes more until the sauce sauce thickens.  Add salt as needed (I did 1/2 tsp.)

When the squash is cooked, put the lasagna together in a 9″x 13″ making dish. Start by coating the bottom of the dish with about 1/2 cup of the white sauce.  Lay down 3 of the noodles and then layer on 1/3 of the spinach, 1/3 of the squash, 1/3 of the ricotta dropped in little dollops across the pan, 1/3 of the white space, 1/3 of the mozzarella and 1/3 of the parmesan.

Repeat that layering 2 more times to make 3 equal layers.  Cover the baking dish with foil (not touching the top of the lasagna).  Bake it covered 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Remove the foil and bake 5 or 10 minutes more until the top in nicely browned.

Let the lasagna sit 10 minutes to meld together before cutting into it.  Enjoy it hot and savory!!

img_4756

Parmesan Pasta with Mushrooms & Spinach

IMG_8176

Hey there– We’ve been eating our share of salads and light summer suppers– but once in a while you get into a mood and only a plate of pasta will do.  This one is delectable– creamy and cheesy and garlicky– with all those mushrooms and spinach.  So satisfying.  ( I won’t admit that I had a little bowl for breakfast the next morning!).  I think you might really like it too– when that pasta craving hits.

PARMESAN PASTA WITH MUSHROOMS & SPINACH

8 oz. pasta*
3 to 4  tab. olive oil
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, cut in half
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup whole milk (or half & half)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp. cornstarch
3 cups spinach, cut in shreds

IMG_8169

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box, using lightly salted water.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet.  Drop in the cut mushrooms and cook, stirring a bit for 3 or 4 minutes until they are tender.  Salt & pepper them while they cook.  Add in the garlic and cook one 1 minute more.

Then pour in the chicken stock and milk.  Bring to a low simmer and cook 2 minutes.  Stir in the parmesan cheese.  Mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water in a container with a tight fitting lid and shake it up until the cornstarch is completely dissolved and stir it into the simmer sauce until it thickens.

Drop in the shreds of spinach and cook 1 minute more until it is wilted and tender.  Then drain the pasta and spread it onto a platter.  Top it with the mushroom-spinach sauce.  Serve it up hot, maybe with another sprinkle of parmesan on top!

*Used my very favorite angel hair pasta, pick your own fave.

IMG_8205

Peach & Faro Spinach Salad

IMG_2318PEACH & FARO SPINACH SALAD
4 oz. baby spinach leaves (about 1/2 bag)
2 ripe yellow peaches
1/2 cup uncooked faro
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup salted almonds, cut in half
1/4 cup feta, crumbled*
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar (or red wine vinegar)**
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tab. maple syrup

Put the faro in a pot with a little more than 3/4 cup of water and the 1/8 tsp. salt.  Bring it to a boil and cook about 8 minutes.  Pour it into a large sieve and rinse to cool it down.

On a pretty platter, layer the spinach, faro, peaches, almonds and feta.

Whisk together the oil vinegar, slat & pepper and maple syrup until they are thoroughly emulsified.  And pour over the salad when you are ready to set it on the table.

P.S.– We had this all on  it’s own for supper, but if you wanted to make it a little more hearty, add in a cup of cooked, chopped chicken or salmon.

*I like the feta with garlic & herbs, but plain feta is fine.
**Tarragon vinegar has a gaslight sweetness that is nice with the peaches, and I’ve used red wine vinegar as well.  Both are nice.

IMG_2321

Caramelized Onion & Spinach Pizza

IMG_2812Hello all-  On a Friday night, what’s better than pizza, something good on the “telly” and a comfy spot on the sofa– winding down at the end of the week??  Perfect.

Here’s a favorite of ours.  First had something like this at Cheese Board Pizza in Berkeley several years ago and it’s been coming out of our oven ever since.  Garlicky, onion-y good.  (and it makes 2 pizzas!)

CARAMELIZED ONION & SPINACH PIZZA

Crust:
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2  12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

IMG_2788Toppings:
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil*
4 onions (yes 4!!), chopped
Big splash of olive oil
8 oz. mozzarella, grated
4 oz. spinach, chopped
6 oz. brown mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts

While the crust is rising, do all your chopping and grating of the topping ingredients.

Heat the splash of olive oil in a skillet.  Cook the onions for about 10 minutes until they are browned and caramelized.

Mix the garlic and 1/3 cup olive oil together.  Spread it over the raised crust.

Then layer on the onions, cheese, spinach, mushrooms and pine nuts.

Pop the 2 pizzas into a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pizza starts to brown around the edges.

*We love the Spanish Olive Oil from Trader Joe’s.  It tastes like cooking-smells floating out the windows in Seville on a hot summer night.  So rich and buttery.

Garlicky Spinach Mushroom Pizza

IMG_7812Hello friends–  After spending my days in the classroom with 3rd and 4th graders for several years, I can tell you that pizza is the overwhelming food favorite for those kids.  I’m a long way past 4th grade, but I’m still an enthusiastic pizza eater.  And here’s one we really thought was delish!

This recipe makes two 12″ garlicky good pizzas.  Even though it’s just Larry and me in the house these days, I still make double pizza so there’s leftovers to toast up at lunchtime the next week…

GARLICKY SPINACH MUSHROOM PIZZA

Crust:
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2  12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

IMG_7818Toppings:
4 cloves garlic
4 tab. olive oil
12 oz. mozzarella (or fontina), grated
4 cups baby spinach leaves, cut to shreds
6 oz. crimini brown mushrooms (or your favorite), cut into slices
1/4 cup parmesan reggiano
1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)

Stir the garlic into the oil and spread it over the risen crust dough.  Over the oil sprinkle the mozzarella.  The layer on the spinach, mushrooms, parmesan and pine nuts.

Pop the pizzas into a 375 degree oven and cook it for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is melty and the crust is browned around the edges.  Eat it hot from the oven.  Oh yumm.

IMG_7821

Beef Tenderloin with Apricot & Olives

IMG_7678Hi all– A few days before Christmas the Fed Ex man came to my door with a huge white styrofoam box.  What on earth?  Did Larry order something mysterious?  I slit it open and it turned out to be packed goodies from a steak/meat company– A Christmas gift to us from my mom!  You have to admit she’s great at imagining gifts we’d love.

So I tucked it all in my freezer and have been doling out this luscious meat a bit at a time.  This week I tried a new recipe that I’ve had in my file forever, just waiting to test it out.  And it turned out to be just right with the tender, juicy Christmas gift tenderloin–the briny olives and sweet sauce that begged to be sopped up with a sturdy chunk of bread. Delish!

BEFF TENDERLOIN WITH APRICOT & OLIVES
1 cup white rice
1/4 cilantro, chopped (or your favorite herb)
1 pound beef tenderloin, cut in friendly chunks
splash of olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tab. tarragon vinegar (or whatever vinegar you have on hand)
1 cup apricot preserves
1 cup mixed good olives*
6 oz. bag of baby spinach

Cook the rice according the instructions on the bag.  Set aside in the pot to keep it warm.

While that’s cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet and then drop in the chunks of beef. As  it’s browning liberally salt and pepper the meat.  Cook on high for just about 5 minutes until the pieces are browned but still medium inside (please don’t overcook the meat like I usually do!).  Remove the steak from the pan.

In the meat juices cook the garlic a minute or two.  Then add the vinegar and preserves.  Cook about 3 minutes more.  Then add in the meat, olives and and spinach.  Stir on the heat just until the spinach starts to wilt and the meat is warmed though– only a minute or two.

Stir the cilantro into the cooked rice and serve of the rice an meat on the same platter– Be sure to scrape all the lovely apricot sauce out of the pan!  Makes 4 polite servings.

*I have to admit I’m a bit of an olive snob (blame it on all those olive filled years we lived in Spain!).  I don’t mind buying store brand products or shopping at the most affordable store in town.  But when it comes to olives, splurge!  Please don’t buy those salty hard ones in the jar.  Thank you.

Spinach Ricotta White Pizza

IMG_0859Hello there–  We do love pizza around here.  So in the endless search for a new, interesting, tasty version of this yummy stuff, we tried out a “white pizza” for dinner on Saturday.  (thanks Danielle for the suggestion!)  The ricotta takes the place of tomato saucy topping.  Add some mozzarella, spinach, pine nuts…  It’s lovely.

SPINACH RICOTTA WHITE PIZZA

Crust (makes 2 pizzas):
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2 12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

Topping:
1 1/2 cup ricotta
2 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 bunch of fresh spinach
2 tab. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 more tab. olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 handfuls of pine nuts

While the crust is rising a bit, in large shallow pan, heat the 2 tab. of olive oil.  When the pan is hot, throw in the garlic and the spinach and stir it just a minute or two until the spinach wilts a bit–not long enough to let it cook completely. (You know how spinach can cook down away to nothing!)  Mix the ricotta, mozzarella and basil together in a bowl.  Then take the two pizza crusts and spread a tablespoon of olive oil on each one.  Top each with half of the ricotta mixture.  Then spoon the spinach over the pizzas.  Sprinkle on the parmesan and pine nuts.  Slide the pizzas into a 375 degree oven for 25 to 20 minutes until the crust browns around the edge and cheese is a bit bubbly.  All that’s left it to eat it up!

Spinach Cheddar Rice

IMG_0798Hello there–  I have a favorite old cookbook that I got for a wedding gift 38 years ago– The Pillsbury New Family Cookbook (not so new now!).  I’ve made dozens of recipe from that book and it looks like it’s been well used, held together with ugly brown electrical tape. I noticed this dish years ago, and always intended to make it.  So with a few tweaks, here’s good old Spinach Cheddar Rice.

SPINACH CHEDDAR RICE
1 cup rice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup spinach leaves, cut in shreds
1/3 tsp. garlic salt

Cook the rice in 2 cups of water with the salt, simmering on low for ten minutes.  Then beat the 2 eggs.  Stir in the milk, cheddar, spinach and garlic salt.  Finally mix in the rice and turn it all into a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes until it starts to brown around the edges.  Simple and good.

Spinach Almond Pesto

IMG_9200Hello all-  I’ve grown up in the last 35 years.  When I married old Larry, I wouldn’t have touched spinach.  But I married Mr. Healthy Eater, so I’ve changed my ways.  And this here is a pretty darn yummy way to eat your spinach!  You can make it in the time it takes to cook up your favorite pasta –and it’s bright and pretty on your plate.  I think you might love it too.

SPINACH ALMOND PESTO
8 oz. of your favorite pasta– I used Orecchiette here
2 cups fresh spinach, washed and stems cut off
1/2 cup toasted almonds*
1/4 cup parmesan romano cheese, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tab. olive oil
1/8 tsp. salt
a good dash of freshly ground pepper
a sprinkle of pine nuts
1/4 cup, red bell pepper, diced to nice little bits

Put the water on to boil and cook your pasta according to the package directions.  In the food processor blend the spinach, almonds, cheese, garlic, oil, salt and pepper.  That’s it!

If you want to, you can warm it in the microwave just a few seconds (don’t cook it!) Serve the pesto spooned over your favorite pasta and garnish with the red pepper and pine nuts.

*you could also use walnuts or pine nuts, traditionally used in pesto.

Bacon Mushroom Spinach Risotto


IMG_9044

Hi all– I’ve steered clear of risotto recipes, after reading about all the serious stirring and tending to the simmering rice.  It all seemed a little bit tedious.  But last week I finally broke down and gave it a try, in a lazy sort of way.  I did stir, but only between dashes to set the table make a salad, answer the phone…  And I think it came out just fine in spite of  my lack of careful, uninterrupted attention.   Gosh, how could rice, spinach, bacon and parmesan all cooked up together not taste good!

BACON MUSHROOM SPINACH RISOTTO
2 tab. olive oil
6 oz. mushrooms, cut in tidy bits
3 slices bacon, chopped to small chunks
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
3/4 cup uncooked Carnaroli or Arborio rice*
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup parmesan reggiano
2 cups spinach leaves, cut to slivers
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in the pan,  Brush the mushrooms clean, cut them up and drop them into the hot oil.  Cook them just about 1 minutes until they brown and soften a bit and remove them from the pan.  Wipe out the pan and put in the bacon.  Cook it unitl it’s well browned and take it out and add it to the mushrooms.  Then in the remaining bacon fat,  Cook the onions until they are soft. Next stir the rice into the pan until it is golden.  Add the garlic and thyme leaves.  Stir in the white wine and simmer, stirring now and then until it is absorbed.  Add the chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring it every few minutes until it is all absorbed (about 20 minutes total).  Then stir in the spinach and cook 3 or 4 minutes more Remove the pan from the hear and mix in the parmesan. bacon and mushrooms.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon it into shallow bowls and garnish with a twig of thyme.  Enjoy!

*I’d never heard of carnaroli rice– but at my grocer’s the Arborio was expensive (!) and they had a store brand bag of carnaroli.  It was cute and nubby, so I gave it a try.  It was just fine.

Potato, Ham and Spinach Tortilla

IMG_7997Hi you all–  This is all a bit confusing.  Our years in Spain, I learned to make Spanish tortilla–not to be confused with the Mexican variety we consume by the millions here in California.  It’s a potato-egg confection, similar to an Italian frittata. This version has a decidedly American bent.  All that aside, I just submit that it’s really good, homestyle, warm food for a winter’s evening.

POTATO, HAM AND SPINACH TORTILLA
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2″ chunks
1 yellow onion, minced
olive oil
garlic salt
4 eggs
dash salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 cup smoky ham, cut in bits
1 cup spinach, chopped to slivers
1/2 cup cheddar, grated

Thoroughly cook the potatoes in a nonstick pan with the olive oil.  About half way through, throw in the onion & ham and season with garlic salt. Meanwhile, crack the 4 eggs into a large bowl and season with salt and the ground pepper.  Beat them together and after the potatoes are beginning to brown take them off the heat and let them cool for 10 minutes.  Then drop the potatoes and spinach into the bowl of eggs and let them sit for 5 minutes to really coat the potatoes.

Here is the fun part.  Wipe out the pan so it’s smooth and clean.  Add a couple tablespoons of oil heat the pan.  Pour the eggs and potatoes into the heated pan and cook on medium heat until the bottom is browned and the eggs are mostly set.  Then cover the top of the pan with a large plate and flip it over onto the plate.  Slide the tortilla back into the pan cooked side up and let it cook on medium low for another 5-8 minutes until the bottom is browned as well.

You can eat this cold like Spaniards do for picnics or make tortilla sandwiches on thick slabs of crunchy Spanish bread.  But I like it best piping hot and sitting by fireplace with a bright salad.  Que aproveche!

Pasta with Garlicky Chicken and Spinach


Hello there– This recipe has a “secret ingredient” that gives it the delectable garlicky flavor– Served over egg noodles, it’s a complete main dish simple enough for everyday, but good enough to share with friends.  We had it when my friend Jenon came for her birthday dinner last week.  It hit the spot.

PASTA WITH GARLICKY CHICKEN AND SPINACH
6 oz. egg noodles
2 large boneless chicken breasts
2 tab. olive oil
1  5 oz. package baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup milk
2 tab. flour
4 oz. Alouette (or Rondele) garlic and herb cheese (that’s the secret)
1 tab. thyme leaves
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Cook the egg noodles according to the package instructions.  Then heat the oil in a nonstick pan and drop in the spinach and red pepper.  Stir and cook a couple minutes just until the spinach is wilted.  Remove from the pan.  Then cut the chicken into bite size bits and saute until browned in the same pan.  Mix the milk and flour by shaking it in a container with a lid.  Stir the flour & milk into the hot pan until it thickens.  Then stir in the cheese, thyme, garlic and  pepper until it’s a smooth sauce.  Add the spinach and peppers back to the pan.  Spread the drained noodles on a platter and top with the chicken and sauce.  Enjoy!!