Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What's in Season: Spinach


We've just finished 2 squares of spinach (4 plants each), are about to move on to the third, and have planted a fourth. Growing it ourselves is way cheaper and tastier than buying it at the grocery store. Just like other leafy greens, it is so nice just to be able to go out and pick a few when they're needed. Spinach has been easy and quick to grow from seed--start some today!!!

Spinach has tons of calcium, is extremely rich in antioxidants, and has almost as much iron as ground beef. Work it into your salads, soups, lasagnas, mac-n-cheese, and dips.

Here are my two favorite spinach recipes! (You can always substitute 10 oz. frozen spinach)

Spinach Risotto
4 cups of chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 shallots, chopped (I've substituted 1/2 cup of onion too)
1 cup Arborio or other short-grain rice
2 Tbsp white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper
lots of spinach (it really reduces. About 1 head or 10 big leaves or 1 bag or 10oz frozen. You can always add it slowly with the amount you like and add any leftovers to the salad.)

Warm the broth in a saucepan.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat oil and butter until the butter melts.

Cook the shallots until golden, about 3 minutes.

Add the rice and cook, stirring all the while, until the grains are shiny with oil. Pour in the wine.

Add about 1 cup of broth, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and stir occasionally until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.

Pour in 1/2 cup of broth, stir and simmer until the broth is absorbed. Continue to add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is creamy on the outside, but still a bit firm to the bite. This will take about 20 minutes.

Then stir in cheese, salt, pepper, and spinach. Serve immediately.

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leek (about 1 large)*
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 oz. goat cheese **
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
  • 4 medium (about 5 ounces each) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat
  • 3 ounces bottled roasted red bell peppers (about 1 1/4 peppers), divided *
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ.

2. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add leek, garlic, oregano, salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper; cook and stir until leek is soft (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and add the spinach, stirring to combine; set spinach mixture aside.

2. Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally using a sharp knife. Place bottom halves of breasts in a 9- x 9-inch baking dish, setting top halves aside. Divide spinach filling evenly among breasts; top each portion with one-fourth of roasted red peppers, and replace the top halves of breasts.

3. Brush the top half of each chicken breast with melted butter; sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and spray lightly with cooking spray. Add wine to baking dish (avoiding the breadcrumbs), and bake for 40 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked.

4. Remove chicken from oven; let rest for 5 minutes before serving. To serve, cut each breast into 3 or 4 slices on the diagonal to expose the stuffing, or simply leave each portion whole.

*I often omit the leeks or red peppers, if I don't have any on hand.

**My only addition to the original recipe is 3 oz. goat cheese to the spinach mixture. It makes it so creamy.


Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

I bought spinach at the farmer's market yesterday and made the spinach risotto for dinner tonight. Had to cook it quite a bit longer than the recipe said - I think maybe brown rice isn't the best - but it turned out really yummy! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

I'm only JUST starting out learning about cooking by the seasons, so if you want to share other posts like this one, I would LOVE it!

Amy said...

So glad it turned out! I've only done it with risotto but I'll have to try rice. I'm thinking of doing a post on zucchini next! Blessings to you!


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