Posts Tagged ‘Spinach’

I found this recipe back in 1998 when it was published by Bon Appetit Magazine. The credit for the recipe goes to Russell Ito from San Mateo, CA. The flavors in this are quite lovely. There is the delicate flavors of the shallots, mushrooms and spinach, and the cohesiveness of the mozzarella with a kick from crushed red peppers!

3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
3/4 # Aidell’s Sun Dried Tomato Sausage, cut into thick rounds
3/4 # crimini mushrooms
3/4 cup of chopped shallots
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes
1 10 oz. package of ready to use baby spinach leaves
1 1/4 cups of low sodium chicken broth
3/4 # cooked Penne pasta
2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese

Main ingredients

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the sausages, mushrooms, shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Sausage, mushrooms, shallots, garlic and red chili flakes

Saute these until the mushrooms begin to brown, about 10 minutes.

Mushrooms are browned enough to add the broth and cheese

Add the spinach

Add the spinach and broth

and the chicken broth. Toss until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Then add the pasta and the cheese.

The pasta and the cheese...

Toss until the cheese melts and the sauce coats the pasta, about 3 minutes. Then season with salt and pepper to your liking. Then serve!

Dinner is served!

You can also try this with fully cooked pork sausage, or try it with a turkey sausage. I like the flavors in the sausage I use in this recipe the best!

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Last night we were having dinner with friends Gene and Betsy followed by a game of progressive rummy! So much has been going on lately that we had not had a dinner and card night for a long time! There were two challenges for the evening. The first challenge for was to come up with a vegetarian dinner; the second was to beat Betsy at cards!

Thinking about dinner I wanted to do something that I could prepare ahead, and that is pretty simple to make. So last night I hoped to win at cards and I made Manicotti!

For the stuffing:
2 Eggs
1 1/4 containers of Ricotta cheese
1 15 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and the water squeezed out
2/3 cup of finely minced onion
1 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 cup grated Mozzarella

Manicotti Shells – uncooked
Tomato Basil Sauce – 24 oz. jar + cups of water
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups Mozzarella

Beat the eggs until well blended. Add the ricotta and mix well with the eggs until the mixture no longer has lumps. Add the spinach, the onion and the spices. Combine. Then add in the cheese.

Manicotti filling

Everything is ready to go!

Next take the Manicotti shells and with your hands stuff the shells until tightly packed. Next mix the water and the sauce together, and add one cup to a 9×13 baking pan. Shake the pan from side to side to spread it out evenly. Lay the Manicotti in the pan. Cover with the remaining sauce and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Ready to cook

I got this ready ahead of time and then set it in the refrigerator until I am ready to start cooking. When ready to bake, turn the oven on to 350 degrees and bake for 45-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

I served dinner fresh steamed asparagus, and Texas toast.

Dinner is served!

We followed this with a salad.

Spring mix salad with raw sunflower seeds

After dinner we shared a Port wine with some really excellent chocolate!

Port and chocolate for dessert

Dinner was a hit!

We played progressive rummy

Card game

and I think someone was cheating!

Someone could be cheating

Needless to say I did not win. Betsy took the game again!

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I know that I do! The delicate flavors of this wonderful vegetable make it prime for a salad, steamed, or added to a dish! And, it is good for you too!

Spinach - Photo by Victor M. Vicente Selvas

The plant is believed to originate in ancient Persia, now known as Iraq and its neighboring countries. It was brought into India by traders and it became known as the “Persian vegetable.” It was introduced in Spain in the 12th century and later it made its way to England, and France by way of Spain in the 14th century. Catherine de Medici, who became Queen of France in 1533, loved this vegetable so much that she insisted that it be served at every meal! Because of this, dishes with spinach became known as “Florentine” after her birth place of Florence.

This vegetable is rich in antioxidants, Vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as others. It is a good source of iron. One 3.5 ounce serving contains 21% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). It also is a good source of calcium. The same serving size contains 10% of the RDA. Overcooking spinach diminishes these nutrients.

There are three basic types of spinach. The first is savoy, which has a dark crinkly and curly leaf. This is the type of spinach typically seen in our grocery stores that are sold in bundles. Heirloom varieties of this vegetable include Merlo Nero, and Italian variety of spinach, and Viroflay, which is a large spinach that has high yields. The second type of spinach is a flat smooth leafed spinach that is easier to clean than the Savoy spinach. You will find this spinach in most processed foods. The last is semi-savoy, which is a hybrid variety that has slightly crinkled leaves and is much easier to clean than the savoy. Five Star is the most common variety grown for the fresh market, although it too finds it way into processed foods.

My favorite way to cook spinach is to first start by cleaning the leaves really well to get the sandy grit off of the leaves. Do not dry the spinach, but place it all into a big soup pot, cover it and turn the heat on to medium heat. After a couple of minutes, check the spinach. It should have cooked down rather quickly and be just about done. Stir it a couple of times, turn the heat off and serve!

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