Tag: spinach

Tropical Green Smoothie

Summer is by far my favorite season to cook in. Everything is fresh and vibrant and in turn it makes us feel fresh and vibrant too. We just moved house to a beautiful riverside condo and it’s making it easy to get up in the morning and hit the day running. Our views are blue and green and there’s lots to explore and discover. In the early mornings I’ve been watching herons cruising above the river and wading at its edges in the reeds. They are magnificently prehistoric and look almost out of place in these northern climes as if they should be living a lush, tropical lifestyle like an ancient pterodactyl. Don’t we all want a lush tropical lifestyle? Well, the sun is shining and this Tropical Green Smoothie will help get your tastebuds a bit closer to the equator. Happy sipping!

Tropical Green Smoothie 

1/4 C frozen pineapple
1/4 C frozen mango
2 handfuls fresh spinach
1 banana
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 cup coconut milk (I use Silk Coconut)
3 dates

Blend well in blender until smooth. Serves 2

*tip – leftover smoothie freezes well in an ice cube tray for next time. Just add a few cubes to the blender, top with cold liquid of your choosing and blend.

 

Green Goddess Smoothie

Green Goddess Smoothie

green juice

 

I’m new to the world of juicing. I still don’t have a juicer, just a very powerful blender that looks at fruits and vegetables, laughs and then promptly liquefies them. I’ve never understood taking all of the fiber out as a juicer does. The blender method ensures you have a thick, smooth fiber filled drink that has the goodness and benefit of the whole fruit and veg. You might be thinking, “Spinach? No thanks.” But honestly, it’s basically flavorless. What really rings through in this recipe is the lemon and ginger making it a fresh, bright tasting drink that gives you the benefit of a big salad plus fruit, add chia seeds and you’ve got some protein too. It’s fresh and light and a great way to start your morning or to fill the gap between meals.  (more…)

Sorrel Soup

Just like that, summer is ending. It feels as if it barely got started. It’s back to school time and soon the leaves will be turning colour and the air will have that distinct chill to it that whispers fall. Until then the afternoons are bright and hot and the evenings are balmy until the sun dips, then they are refreshingly cool, wooing you to stay outside after dinner and have just one more glass of wine.

Despite its late start, it was a nice summer. The sun seemed so precious that we crammed a lot into the bright, hot days, knowing that any one of them could be the last. It was busy, fun and productive. One of the most exciting elements of this summer was the successful maturation of (most of) the garden. We have eaten more beans in the last 6 weeks than in our whole lives! Radishes and fresh greens were growing so fast we couldn’t keep up and the tomatoes are just now gracing us with their red, yellow, orange and deep purple bounty. Even our poor carrots, which over all did poorly, did something: enough for a few salads and few jars of pickles for mid winter hors d’ouevres. Sure, the zucchini and pumpkins have struggled, but all in all, for our first year, it was a success and we have already planted autumn/winter crops to take us through the colder months.

We planted so many things, and so much of it grew beautifully, but nothing was quite so voracious as the sorrel. Tucked between purple kale and a rainbow of Swiss chards, one small sorrel plant became a behemoth bush, pushing up countless deep green spade shaped leaves. If you have never had sorrel and have the opportunity, try it. It’s a somewhat old fashioned green that for one reason or another has fallen out of favour. Stronger and more astringent than spinach, it is an assertive and nutritious green. Raw it has a tart, green apple crossed with spinach kind of flavour. Cooked it has a milder, more earthy taste.

When I was very small and we still lived on the farm, I recall eating shallow, cold bowls of sorrel soup. It was emerald green, creamy, and always had slices of hard boiled egg floating in it and cold, boiled potato. You’d spoon a slice or two of the potato into your bowl, scoop up some egg and the bright, deep green soup. The flavour was intense, fresh and rich all at once and it dazzled against its benign garnishes. Because I have never found sorrel in any market, I have never recreated this soup until this summer. The sorrel grew so immense that it threatened to take over the world so there was no guilt in cutting it back and making up a big, cold jug of sorrel soup. We’ll be having it tonight with grilled fish and some very cold sauvignon blanc to punctuate the end of the summer season and celebrate the gifts of the garden and the summer sun. Cheers!

Sorrel Soup

serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

4 C sorrel leaves (packed)

6 C spinach leaves (packed), divided

1/2 C leek, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 C chicken or vegetable stock

1 C cream

sea salt and pepper, to taste

Wash and dry the spinach and sorrel thoroughly. In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, melt the butter into the olive oil. Add the chopped leek and garlic, stirring frequently to soften. Do not allow to brown. Add 4 C spinach and sorrel, stirring to wilt them. When they are fully wilted, spoon the greens, with the leek and garlic into a food processor (or blender – just be careful if using a blender that the steam doesn’t blow the lid off). Puree completely, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 2 C spinach and continue to puree. With the processor running, add the stock. Once fully incorporated, add the cream. Taste and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Chill the soup thoroughly.

Serve chilled garnished with:

Cold hard boiled egg (chopped or sliced) and cold sliced boiled potato

Spinach Pesto

Isn’t spring wonderful? Spring weather makes me want to eat green things. This spinach pesto is no exception. It is milder than the basil pesto you may be familiar with and this version is kept lighter in taste without the addition of cheese like many pestos.

I would have happily used walnuts or pine nuts, even almonds, but I happened to have pecans on hand. Pecans have a mild buttery-ness and they are very oily, making them a good pairing to the deeply green tasting spinach. A good squirt of lemon juice balances the flavour as well as keeping the colour bright by preventing oxidation. This pesto came together in minutes and with the exception of peeling garlic, required essentially no preparation. I tossed it with hot orzo and steamed pea pods for a brilliantly green supper but you could put it to many uses: sandwiches, pizza, salad dressings, a mix-in for mashed potatoes or scrambled eggs, or a delicious instant sauce for hot vegetables. With 4 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) it’s likely the easiest and most spring-like thing you can make.

Spinach Pesto

This recipe makes use of a food processor, but you could use a blender (or even a mortar and pestle) instead.

4 cups (packed) fresh spinach

3/4 cup pecan halves (or use any oily nut: walnuts or pine nuts <which are actually seeds> are excellent choices)

juice of half a lemon

3 large cloves of garlic, peeled

salt & pepper

Olive oil

In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the pecans until they become like coarse sand. Add the garlic and enough olive oil to allow the mix to become a paste. Add the spinach leaves. Run the processor until the spinach is mulched into the nuts and garlic. Add the lemon juice and while the machine is still running, begin to slowly drizzle in olive oil. How much olive oil you will use depends on the texture you want your pesto. I like mine less oily and somewhat mousse-like, you might prefer yours wetter and more oily (more like the store bought version). Add the oil, stopping occasionally to check the texture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once blended to your desired consistency, scrape the pesto into a tight sealing container and keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks. If you want it to remain the pristine emerald colour, after each use, smooth the pesto so the surface is flat and pour a thin layer of olive oil over the surface to seal it and prevent it from darkening.

Use to flavour soups, tossed with hot pasta, on potatoes, spread on bread, etc., etc.

Grilled Cheese with Walnuts and Spinach

Some things just deserve the adjective “classic”. The iconic ‘little black dress’ that almost every woman owns and feels fabulous in, an ice cold gin martini (shaken, not stirred) and Stairway to Heaven (on vinyl, loud enough to wake the neighbours) all come to mind. If you think of edible things (beyond the martini) a grilled cheese sandwich certainly fits onto that list too.

Some might say that ‘the classics’ shouldn’t be altered or updated. I think that’s all a matter of taste. This sandwich, for instance, is far from the classic grilled cheese. But what defines ‘classic’? I happen to know a few individuals who will tell you that the best, most ‘classic’ grilled cheese sandwiches are made with processed cheese slices. I am not one of them.

Since it’s all subjective, you may as well keep things interesting. This crazy sandwich certainly accomplishes that! The inspiration/recipe came from my Uncle Rick, who read about it in a magazine (not sure which one) and was interpreted for dinner recently by my Aunt April.  What makes it so good? So different? A few small tweaks and additions, but primarily the addition of ….walnuts!

Think about it: Nuts and cheese are great together. So are bread and cheese. So are spinach and walnuts. So are cheese and spinach. Theoretically, all these things should be fantastic together. It’s a no brainer.

I’m not going to walk you through a grilled cheese sandwich tutorial, but I will leave you with a few hints:

  • Don’t butter the outside of the bread, go for broke and use mayonnaise instead.
  • Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan and chop them coarsely.
  • Put cheese on both sides and let it melt, open faced
  • Press the walnuts into both cheesey surfaces
  • Sandwich fresh spinach in the middle while the cheese and nuts are still hot so the spinach wilts
  • Don’t limit yourself to cheddar — get creative
  • Use a good grainy bread

So get out a pan, crank the Led Zeppelin and enjoy!