Posts Tagged 'spinach'

Aloo Sak (Spiced spinach and potatoes)

I hope you had a great holiday yesterday!  Ours was incredibly mellow:  we all took naps, I went for a short run, and I spent a couple hours in the kitchen making Indian food (because nothing says Happy Birthday, America! like chapatis hot from the skillet).

Yesterday was day 38, the final day of the Runners World Summer Run Streak.

I ended up running 200.82 miles…and I think I’m going to try and stretch the streak to 40 or maybe 50 days, but we’ll see.

Ellie’s become incredibly mobile and is constantly exploring.  We had to do some crazy last-minute babyproofing because we didn’t realize how fast she’d be able to get into everything.

I tend to have a hard time coming up with vegetable sides when I make Indian food, and palak paneer (my favorite!) is just a little too heavy for summer.  This recipe is pretty easy and the flavor is outstanding.  I paired it with masala chana dal and it was a great dinner.


(adaped from The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking)

Sweet Potato and Kidney Bean Salad

Mike and I tend to get really into TV shows after they’ve been on for a couple years.  Right now we are OBSESSED with parenthood and are working our way through the first season on Netflix.

I feel ridiculously behind the times that I’m just now watching this, but it’s so good I don’t care.  I love that it’s set in Berkeley (although clearly not filmed there), but it also already has me nervous about Ellie’s teenage years.

Speaking of Ellie, she’s officially crawling now.  Help me.

What I really want to call this is African Peanut Stew Salad.  I wanted the flavor of that, but the lightness of a salad, so I roasted some sweet potatoes and tossed them with fresh spinach and kidney beans.  For the dressing, I made a super simple tomato sauce (just butter, onion, and tomatoes), but added some peanut butter and curry powder.  When you pour the warm sauce over the salad, you get the spinach to wilt just the right amount.


Roasted Beet and Grapefruit Salad

Clearly I could never be a food stylist.

I kind of tried to artfully arrange slices of beets, avocado, and grapefruit, but then I sort of ruined it by chucking handfuls of walnuts and pomegranate seeds on top.  At least it’s healthy!  

This salad is part of my continued quest to eat a large variety of produce and not just handfuls of chocolate chips.  It’s definitely an uphill battle.

Being home all day definitely makes it easier to eat a ton of produce (if I can keep myself from eating everything I bake).  In just over a month I’ll be back at work and I’ll have to do a little more planning in advance to make sure I have healthy lunches and snacks on hand.  I always kind of failed at that last year, and ended up eating peanut butter and jelly pretty much every day.  But I’m hoping that now I can figure out combinations I like, that I can prep in advance, so my lunches are interesting and healthy.

Roasting beets takes awhile, and so does sectioning grapefruit, so this probably won’t end up as one of my go-tos when packing my lunch.  But it’s so pretty and so full of good things I definitely plan on making it again!

2 medium beets, peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
4-6 oz baby spinach
1 grapefruit
1 avocado, thinly sliced
3 tbsp toasted walnuts
seeds of 1 pomegranate

3 Tbsp freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (squeeze the membranes left from sectioning the grapefruit)
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp walnut oil
1 tsp dijon
1 tsp agave
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the beets into thin wedges and toss with the oil. Wrap in foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Let cool completely.

To section the grapefruit, cut off the outer rind and membrane, then cut out the sections (here’s a how-to with pictures).

To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together.

Place the spinach in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Divide among individual bowls, then top each with a few slices of beet, avocado, and grapefruit. Sprinkle with walnuts and pomegranate seeds.

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche with Vegetable Crust

Yesterday’s run was the best I’ve had yet! I may have broken my casual “no more than 5 miles” rule (barely), but it was beautiful and I felt great. 5.03 miles, 9:43 min/mile Next week I think I’ll bump my long run up to 6 miles, but stick with the every other day plan.

I ran past the finish line of the Nike Women’s Marathon, which they’re setting up right now.

That race was my first marathon back in 2005, when I was far more focused on my social life than training, my longest run was 16 miles, and I swore, after finishing in 4:41, that marathons just weren’t for me.

I’m glad I gave them another chance!

I’ve started a new thing with my meal planning and grocery shopping, where I go to the Farmers Market on Thursday, buy a ton of produce, and then plan my meals around what I’ve bought, instead of planning before I shop. It’s been working out really well for the past few weeks, but sometimes I end up with a ton of random vegetables that I’m not sure what to do with.

Salads are great, obviously.

My current salad obsession involves lettuce, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, basil, cilantro, and mint, with the best dressing EVER. It’s just tahini, lemon juice, and Bragg’s liquid aminos in about a 3:1:1 ratio (or to taste). I love it so much.

Quiches are also awesome for using up vegetable odds and ends. Especially this one, which has vegetables in the crust too. The crust doesn’t get crispy like a normal pie crust would, but it’s a lot healthier.

I don’t have a quiche pan, so I used a 9″ springform pan. Since they sometimes leak, I put it on a sheet pan to bake.

(adapeted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest)

3 medium zucchini, shredded (about 2 cups)
1 medium carrot, shredded (about 3/4 cup)
2 small red potatoes, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp melted butter

1 tbsp butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
8-10 button mushrooms, sliced
6 oz bag baby spinach
salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 eggs
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

To make the crust, toss the shredded zucchini with salt and place in a mesh strainer for about 15 minutes. Squeeze to remove extra liquid.

Combine the zucchini, potatoes, and carrots, and stir in the flour and melted butter. Press into a quiche pan or springform pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden.

Remove from the oven to cool while you prepare the quiche.

Heat the butter in a skillet and add the onions and mushrooms. Cook for about 7 minutes over medium, or until the onions are very soft and the mushrooms have browned. Stir in the spinach and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook just until the spinach wilts.

Sprinkle the parmesan over the crust. Top with the spinach mixture.

Whisk the eggs and milk together and pour over the vegetables and cheese. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, or until set.

South Indian Rice and Tofu Soup

This was originally a Jamie Oliver recipe for seafood and rice soup, using lots of spices and some coconut milk (but also seafood and white rice). Since I don’t eat seafood I added tofu, and I wanted brown rice instead of white. I also wanted to up the vegetable content with some spinach. I just made a few substitutions, and I’m happy to say it worked out really well.

Speaking of substitutions, the long term sub the district found for my maternity leave JUST found out she got a full-time teaching position, so they had to scramble to find another one pretty last-minute (school starts a week from tomorrow!) I am going to meet with her Monday to go over the ins and outs of my classes. I have no idea if she has science/PE/middle school/teaching experience, but I’m hoping for the best!

It’s amazing how much more productive I am when I actually have a reason to get out of bed and do something with my life. I made it to the gym by 5:30 AM the last two mornings and have been feeling fantastic. The workshop has been really awesome and I can’t wait to apply what I learned when I’m finally back to work, even though that feels like an eternity from now.

(adapted from Jamie’s Dinners)

3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp mustard seeds
about 10 fresh curry leaves
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala
a pinch or two cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
2 tsp turmeric
a 2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
1 lb block extra firm nigari tofu, cut into small cubes
1 cup brown basmati rice, soaked for at least an hour, and drained
3 cups vegetable broth
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2-3 handfuls fresh spinach, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
juice of 1 lime

Heat the oil over medium in a large pot or dutch oven.

Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, cumin seeds, garam masala, cayenne, and turmeric. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes, until the mustard seeds start popping and turn dark brown.

Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook until the onions are soft, about five minutes.

Add the tofu and mix well.

Stir in the rice and vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, add the coconut milk and simmer for about 20 minutes (adding a little more broth or some water if soup appears too thick).

Stir in salt to taste and continue simmering until rice is soft. Stir in the spinach and lime juice, and serve.

Seitan with Spinach

I woke up on the fourth of July and immediately started making a batch of seitan.

(You probably already know seitan is fake meat made out of wheat gluten)

I had never made it before, and I have absolutely no idea why that moment seemed like the perfect time to try it, but that’s what happened. I used this recipe and it worked beautifully.

Once it was made, though, I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do with it. It’s so meat-like it’s kind creepy. I ended up consulting a few cookbooks (which I now keep IN THE KITCHEN! Amazing!)

Veganomicon has never steered me wrong, and this was no exception. I left out mushrooms, because Mike isn’t a fan, but it was perfectly good with just spinach and onions. I used 2 tablespoons of white wine, and I know that not all the alcohol cooks out, but I’m fairly confident that I did not harm my child. This was SO GOOD with mashed potatoes, and just meaty enough to make you wonder for a second if it’s somehow cheating to eat this as a vegetarian.

Before I get to the recipe, though, I have to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my awesome dad. He’s currently on vacation in Iceland (rough life) so he may not see this right away, but I had to acknowledge it!

58 years old and still running!

(adapted from Veganomicon)

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups seitan, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, slicked thickly into half circles
3 cloves garlic, mined
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
black pepper
2 tbsp white wine
1/4 cup vegetable broth
6 ounces baby spinach

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the seitan and saute for a few minutes, until golden on all sides.

Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, or until soft.

Add the garlic, thyme, basil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook for about 4 more minutes.

Stir in the white wine and broth and let boil for about 2 minutes, then add the spinach, a handful at a time, until it is wilted.

Taste and adjust seasonings, then serve immediately.

Lentil Salad with Fried Eggs and Mushrooms

I love meeting other food bloggers. Particularly those who run and appreciate good coffee and are perfectly content to sit on a bench overlooking the bay talking about running Boston and stress fractures and boys and family and meeting famous bloggers. I got to hang out with Joanne this afternoon, and over some delightful drinks from Blue Bottle, two hours of conversation flew by.

One of the million things we talked about was creating recipes. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Joanne’s blog, but she puts together some pretty awesome flavors and makes ridiculously good (and healthy) stuff. I am woefully inadequate in this area, but thanks to The Flavor Bible, I’m starting to branch out a little bit.

While this salad was inspired by a recipe I found in my Gourmet cookbook, I left out the bacon, added some sauteed mushrooms, and changed up the seasonings. I loved this meal, but I think if I were to do one thing differently, I would wilt the spinach a little bit before putting it in the bowl. Still, I was really happy with the way it came together, and any recipe that makes lentils taste good is a keeper in my book!

(inspired by Gourmet)

1 cup French green lentils
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
10 cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tsp butter
2 tsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
2 tsp red wine vinegar
4 eggs
4 big handfuls fresh baby spinach

Combine the lentils and broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down the heat and simmer, covered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain any excess liquid that remains in the saucepan.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add the shallots, carrot, and celery and saute until all the vegetables are soft. Transfer to a bowl and add the lentils. Toss with the vinegar, thyme and add a few pinches of salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the butter in the skillet, then add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until softened. Remove from heat and set aside.

Wilt the spinach (if you’d like) in the skillet, then divide among salad plates or bowls.

Fry the eggs in the skillet.

Top the spinach with a scoop of lentils, then place a fried egg on top and sprinkle with mushrooms.


This was supposed to be Friday night’s dinner last week, but Mike came home and we somehow convinced each other that we really needed to go out for sushi. We ended up at Koo (408 Irving St, San Francisco)

I had the vegetarian combo, which is pretty much my standard sushi order, and Mike got what he swears is the best sushi he’s ever had in his life (and it is appropriately named The Best Roll on the menu). It had tempura asparagus and avocado inside, and salmon and thin slices of lemon outside. Obviously I didn’t try it, but I’ll take his word for it that it was amazing.

Saturday ended up being a very full day of shopping that ended with me not really feeling up to cooking too much, so once again, spanakopita was pushed back a day on the dinner calendar.

Sunday started bright and early with a 4.5 mile race around Lake Merced, in which I somehow took 4th place!

Mike and I ran together and chatted the whole time, and I never felt like I was pushing too hard. We finished in 39:07, good enough for that lovely pink ribbon!

The post-race treats included the first watermelon I’ve had this year, which was so good I ate 5 pieces.

After a quick re-fueling stop at home, we jumped in the car and headed south to Portola Redwoods State Park.
We started out hiking the Iverson trail, but the bridges weren’t in place yet so the stream was a dead end.
We turned around and found the trail to the biggest redwood in the park.
I love you, Sequoia sempervirens.

Something about being out in the woods all afternoon made me totally ready for a carbolicious, cheesy dinner, so spanakopita was PERFECT! It’s probably not the most authentic recipe because it’s from Moosewood, but it totally hit the spot. Buttering the layers of filo is kind of a pain, but other than that it’s pretty simple and very satisfying. I might try using frozen spinach as a time-saver next time, but I used fresh here and it was great.

(adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 medium bunches spinach, stems removed, washed, drained, and finely chopped
2 tbsp flour
4 ounces feta, crumbled
1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese
additional salt to taste
6 sheets filo dough (defrosted)
about 3 tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a glass 13 x 9″ pan.

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until soft.

Stir in the salt, garlic, basil, and oregano. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts.

Sprinkle the flour over the spinach and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the cottage cheese and feta. Taste and add salt if needed.

Place a sheet of filo in the pan so that half covers the bottom of the pan, and the other half is draped over one side. Brush with melted butter. Repat with the other 5 sheets of filo, brushing each layer.

Spread the filling evenly over the filo, then fold the remaining half sheets back over the filling (like closing a book’s pages one by one), brushing melted butter on each layer.

Using a sharp knife, cut into squares, then bake for about 30 minutes or until golden on top.

After removing from the oven, let stand about 10 minutes before serving.


I love enchiladas, but I think these might be even better. Completely unphotogenic, just like enchiladas, but more fun to say and possibly healthier (at least if you put spinach inside, like I did). There are ENDLESS variations… it would be really easy to make these either vegan or meaty, depending on your preferences.

Lately I’ve been loving living vicariously through bloggers who make beautiful desserts, have awesome jobs, and live in beautiful places. My life lately has been a blur of the gym at 5 AM, a whole day of 13 year olds, and nights of grading labs and tests. I’m happy, it’s just very routine, which is why I’m looking forward to this weekend’s long run much more than usual.

And speaking of being happy, there was a clip on Oprah recently about “America’s Happiest City,” which I guess someone decided was San Luis Obispo, California. I have really mixed feelings about the clip, in which Jenny McCarthy sees about 2 square blocks of town and chats with “happy locals.” (You can watch it here). I lived in San Luis Obispo for 8 years. I went to college, made tons of friends, met my husband, and got married in that town, so of course I have lots of happy memories. But something about the concept of finding the happiest place in America just seems a little ridiculous to me.

I did have a lot of happy times in San Luis Obispo, but I also had a TON of stressful times, and ultimately, I’m realizing now that living here in this nondescript suburb of San Francisco (which will never even make the top 100 for happiest cities in the country, I’m sure) I’m possibly happier than I’ve ever been before. I have a job that I love, lots of great places to run, and I feel like Mike and I are finally moving in the right direction toward our future.

For some reason, San Luis Obispo always felt like a kind of holding pattern. I never found a job that was satisfying, and in a lot of ways the town seemed like an out-of-touch bubble. I think my point, if I can dig one out of this mess of thoughts in my head, is that it shouldn’t matter what the happiest place in the country is. I’m guessing 95% of the country will never be able to afford to live there anyway. I think what matters, as cliche as it may be, is to find your own happiness wherever you are. Even if it’s a foggy suburb you didn’t know existed until you happened upon a job there.

So now that that’s out there, let’s get back to the food. I love this dinner because it’s quick and simple, but feels like comfort food.

There are just a couple steps:
1. Dip corn tortillas in a beans to soften them up.

2. Fill them with a little spinach, mushrooms, and grated cheese.

3. Then roll up and serve with hot sauce. This is our latest discovery from the Mexican grocery store. The lime is key!

(adapted from Herbivoracious)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups pinto beans, with their liquid (2 15-ounce cans)
water as needed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
4 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 bunch fresh spinach, leaves only (washed well, then drained)
1/2 cup shredded jack cheese

about 10 corn tortillas
cilantro, for garnish

To prepare the beans, heat the oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes, until softened. Add the beans and cover, then simmer for about 15 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender, adding water as needed (you’re going for the consistency of gravy or hot fudge sauce). Salt to taste. Turn heat to low.

Heat the oil in a skillet over a medium high. Saute the onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook just until it wilts. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Using tongs, dip a tortilla in the beans. Hold it there for about 5-10 seconds, until it has softened but isn’t falling apart. Transfer it to a bowl, fill with about 3 tablespoons of the spinach mixture, sprinkle with a little cheese, then loosely roll up. Repeat for all of the tortillas.

Spoon some of the extra beans over the tortillas, then garnish with cilantro. Serve right away.

Lemon-Tahini Pasta with Spinach

It’s a good thing this was a simple dinner because I had a really busy afternoon. I had a bunch of kids stay in my classroom working on a lab…then I had to go buy Halloween candy at Target…then I came come home and instead of going on a run like I planned, I ate a big bowl of cereal and felt sorry for myself for pretty much no reason in particular. (And I know, the run would have boosted my mood a LOT more than slumping on the couch did…) So lame, but sometimes there are days that just kind of deteriorate like that. When that happens, I’m really glad I have an aresnal of quick dinners that don’t require much effort.

This only takes slightly longer than it takes pasta to boil. I love fusili in particular because it has all those little spots to absorb sauce. And the sauce is awesome because it just takes a few pulses in a mini food processor and has the perfect combination of nutty and bright flavors. It’s a nice change from a typical cream sauce (and it’s vegan!)


8 ounces dried fusili pasta
4 tbsp tahini
4 tbsp lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
a few pinches salt and pepper
one large bunch spinach, stems removed and roughly chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is boiling, pulse the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a mini food processor until smooth.

After the pasta has cooked, turn the heat to low and put the drained pasta back into the pan. Stir in the spinach, mixing until it wilts. Stir in the tahini sauce and a few pinches of salt and pepper and mix well.


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