SPINACH & FETA: A Yummy Way To Eat Your Spinach!

spinach feta textCooked spinach is not a looker.  It wilts down from a giant amount to a small, dark green mound.  On its own it tastes…okay. But doctor it up with some flavor, crunch, and color and now you’ve got something.

If you’ve never cooked fresh spinach, prepare for a surprise.  You’ll bring home a mass of leaves and think, “this is way too much”. It’s not, believe me.

Note: I like to buy bundled spinach and wash it myself. But that can be time-consuming and is often hard to find.  Stores seem to prefer to carry pre-washed spinach in plastic tubs. If you do buy the bundles, make sure you weigh them – some are larger than others.

SPINACH & FETA – makes about 1 cup

  • 8½ oz fresh spinach leaves (about 2 bunches)
  • 1 T + 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 T shallots, chopped (about 1 large)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 T water chestnuts, chopped (I get them canned, in the Asian section)
  • 1 oz Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T pistachio nuts, salted, toasted
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped

Steam spinach over boiling water for 1 minute – set a timer! spinach feta4Place spinach in a towel to absorb excess water. spinach feta5Roughly chop. spinach feta6Heat 1 T oil in a skillet over medium/high. Add in shallots and sauté a few minutes, until browned. spinach feta7Stir in the spinach and salt – sauté over medium/high about 2 minutes to evaporate excess moisture. spinach feta1Reduce heat to low and add in the water chestnuts, feta, 1 tsp olive oil, vinegar, and pistachios. spinach feta2Stir over low heat, just to warm everything. Add in tomatoes and serve.spinach feta8

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FALAFEL – Nix The Mix

falafel sandwich textI was recently in the mood for a falafel sandwich, but when I looked up the recipe in my cookbooks (this is what my generation used before the internet), they all listed falafel mix as an ingredient, followed by deep frying. Yuck on both counts!

For one thing, I HATE mixes. I want to know what’s in my food! Also, much as I love deep fried foods, I try to avoid them when I can. After a little research I found a recipe for falafel mix, tweaking it to suit me.

NOTE:  This Falafel Mix is Queen of Freeze approved! If you like the recipe, next time make double or triple the amount and freeze it uncooked for future use.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Falafels go great in pita bread. No surprise, I’m strongly suggesting you make your own. Click Pita Bread to get my “you’ll-never-go-back-to-store bought” recipe.

FALAFEL MIX – makes 2¼ cups (about 12 patties)

  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped in big chunks
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 T olive oil
  • about 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • extra olive oil for brushing on patties
  • pita bread
  • tzatziki sauce – recipe follows

In workbowl of your food processor (please, tell me you have one!), blend together the onion, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice, and baking powder. Add in the garbanzo beans, egg, and olive oil, and pulse until the beans are teeny sized pieces, but aren’t pureed (you want some texture).

Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in enough of the bread crumbs to firm up the mixture so it’s not too sticky, but not so dry that the mixture falls apart when you try to form a ball. (I used the full 1 cup.)

Preheat oven to 400º fahrenheit.

Divide mixture into 1″ balls, then press them between your hands to about 3/8″ thick (they’ll be about 1½” in diameter). Place the discs on a well oiled cookie sheet.

Brush the extra olive oil lightly on each patty and bake for 10 minutes. Flip discs, brush with olive oil, and bake another 10 minutes. Broil for 1-2 minutes, if you want them a little crisper.

NOTE: Quite often you see falafels shaped into balls. If you like, you can do this – they’ll still taste the same. But I prefer them flattened so they fit into the pita bread better. (Also, they don’t roll all over the cookie sheet.) If you’re making falafels as an hors d’oeuvre, then I would go with the spherical shape.

To assemble:  Either cut pitas in half and stuff them, or layer filling on top and fold (like a taco). Spoon on tzatziki sauce, and add in tomato, lettuce, red onions, or olives, if desired.

TZATZIKI SAUCE – makes about 3/4 cup

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt (click Homemade Yogurt to make your own)
  • 1 cucumber, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp salt (I used kosher)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl.