So as I've already mentioned, I'm going through a bit of a spinach phase right now. I'm sure it's mostly thanks to the fact that they're now selling very decent looking fresh baby spinach in most of the supermarkets and whenever I pass it, I can hardly stop myself from throwing a pack or two into the cart.
Now being as it is one of the 14 superfoods that allegedly will change your life for the better (beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, wild salmon, soy, spinach, tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts) (but I've also seen avocado on many of those lists) and that it supposedly decreases heart disease and makes your eyesight good even when you're old (age-related macular degeneration they call it :P), I'm thinking it's an OK phase to go through.
Plus there's a lot of fun and joy in it for me as I grew up in a spinach-free environment and the first time I knowingly had any was about 8 years ago in Prague when my friend ordered a wilted spinach with butter and garlic as a side dish and dug in with such enthusiasm, that I had to ask for a bite. After that there were a couple of sad years of trying to recreate the same thing from nasty frozen pellets they only sold here for a while and now, voila, I can wilt all the spinach I want. And I want a lot, on pasta, on gnocchi, with potatoes in a salad. Yay!
So recently I've made pasta with wilted spinach (but I've apparently deleted the photos (a pity as they were really nice) and I can't therefore post it. But I also made a batch of spinach pesto and a pasta dish and a chicken dish with that. So here they are. Anything to avoid that macular degeneration, eh?
Fresh Spinach pesto:
2 packs of fresh baby spinach (appr. 150g each)
a generous knob of nutty Parmesan (about 50 g)
a good glug of extra virgin olive oil
a good handful of pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
salt and black pepper
Rinse the spinach under cold running water and spin dry.
Combine the spinach and the walnuts in a blender and pulse a couple of times.
Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until smooth. If necessary scrape the sides of the blender and pulse again.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Will keep in a sterilized jar in a fridge for about a week.
It's tangy and has a bit of a bite to it. Plus the traditional nutty and earthy and rich aftertaste that you get with the real (Basil) pesto.
Super simple spinach pesto pasta: Serves 2
1/2 pack of spaghetti
2-3 tbsp of fresh spinach pesto
6 pieces of sundried tomato
1/2 - 1 red bell pepper
some oil from the sundried tomatoes jar
Cut the bell pepper into small chunks and chop the sundried tomato.
Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the pack.
Heat the oil on a large pan, then add the tomatoes and the bell peppers, sauté for a minute or two. Add the drained pasta and mix in the spinach pesto. Stir until all the spaghetti are coated and it's heated through. Whisk the egg with salt and pepper. Add it to the spaghetti and stir again (like when making carbonara).
Serve. You can serve with cheese, but I didn't and it was fine like that (I just read this book by Dr.Fuhrman who basically says that dairy is the root of all that's evil, so I was under the influence at the time I was making this and though that there already is a bit of the evil in the pesto and that's quite enough.
Filled chicken-breasts with red-lentil puree:
4 chicken breasts
6-8 small balls of mozzarella
8 pieces of sundried tomato
3-4 tbsp of fresh spinach pesto
2 slices of ham, bacon or prosciutto
some oil from sundried tomatoes
about 150 g of dried red lentils
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
2 tbsp of sour cream
Salt and pepper, preferably freshly ground
If you have time soak the lentils for about an hour, if you don't no harm done, you're making puree.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Heat the oil in a large pan. Sprinkle the chicken with salt. Quickly fry the chicken breasts on both sides until golden.
Set aside and let them cool until you're able to handle them.
Chop the sundried tomatoes.
Bring the red lentils to a boil with about double the quantity of water to the quantity of lentils. Add some salt.
Chop the cilantro.
Cut the ham into strips.
When the chicken breast have cooled enough, make a cut into each of them so you have a nice pocket to stuff.
Take a large piece of baking paper and crinkle it up under some running water. It will turn softer (or just use foil). Lay it out on an oven tin.
Stuff each chicken breast with sundried tomatoes and some torn up mozzarella. Slightly squeeze them shut. Lay them on the baking paper.
Smear the tops of each fillet with the spinach pesto and sprinkle with the strips of ham. Bring the corners of the baking paper up and fold them together so you end up with a pouch.
Bake with the fan on for about 20 minutes.
The lentils should boil into a mush in about 15 minutes. Stir to further break them into a puree and let them boil until the consistency is right. Stir in the chopped fresh cilantro, heat through, turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream.
I served it with some green salad.