Now that May has arrived, it’s time for the second SOS Kitchen Challenge from Kim at Affairs of Living and me! Thanks, again, to everyone who participated last time. You helped to make the inaugural event a huge success!
This month, Kim and I decided to go with another versatile vegetable that can be used in a host of different ways. Are you ready to exercise your kitchen creativity and cook up some Sweet or Savory dishes that contain. . .
Did you know that, of all vegetables, leafy greens contain the most nutrients? No wonder they’re considered the royalty of the vegetable world! And when it comes to spinach, Popeye knew what he was talking about: this veggie really is a nutritional superhero. With a light, delicate texture and mild flavor, it’s no surprise that spinach is the most popular of all the leafy greens.
Besides offering up ten times your daily requirement of Vitamin K (essential for healthy blood formation), three times the daily Vitamin A, and almost 100% of the daily manganese and folate, a cup of boiled spinach also provides a host of other minerals, vitamins, the amino acid tryptophan, and some heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. The anti-cancer properties of spinach (and all leafy greens) are well-known; this delicate leaf can combat prostate and ovarian cancers, improve bone and cardiovascular health, keep your mind sharp and your eyes healthy (the latter mostly due to the carotenoid lutein, which has been proven to help prevent macular degeneration, a common cause of blindness as people age).
According to Paul Pitchford in his classic tome, Healing with Whole Foods, spinach is also a considered cooling food within the traditions of Chinese medicine; it “has a ‘sliding’ nature, which facilitates internal body movements such as bowel action and urination, and thus is treatment for constipation and urinary difficulty.” Moreover, the high chlorophyll and iron content help to build blood. (Beware, however, which spinach you buy; according to the Environmental Working Group, spinach ranks number eight in the top twelve fruits and vegetables most sprayed with pesticides. With spinach, if you can afford it, it’s best to buy organic).
If all the health benefits don’t convince you, how about the taste and versatility? I love using spinach raw in smoothies, as the main ingredient in a salad or the base for a yummy meal-in-a-bowl; cooked into a quick and easy Mediterranean Rice Casserole, or simply sautéed with garlic and soy sauce. And let’s not forget the sweet possibilities: how about some vegan molten chocolate cakes or (the easier option), chocolate-studded cupcakes?
To enter this month’s SOS challenge, simply create and post a recipe using spinach before the deadline of midnight, May 20, 2010, CST, and send it to soskitchenchallengeATgmailDOTcom (note: you don’t have to cook up an original recipe–any recipe that uses the ingredient is just fine, even if you found it somewhere else!).
For full details on what kinds of ingredients to use and how to enter the challenge, see this page. I’ll post the roundup (as will Kim, on her blog) a week after the deadline so you can take your time browsing through the amazing collection of recipes before the next challenge!
My first contribution to the challenge this month is this quiche that’s been a staple in our house for as long as the HH and I have been together (that’s more than a dozen years now–yikes!). In fact, it’s such a standby recipe that I was sure I’d already posted it–but couldn’t find it in the archives.
I first tasted quiche as a callow undergrad at the University of Windsor, one weekend when my room mate’s friend (who hailed from the booming metropolis of Toronto) came to visit. Ildiko (why is it all the good cooks I encountered as a university student had unusual names?) arrived with backpack in tow, from which she withdrew in quick succession, a bag of flour, a pound of butter, a carton of cream, various zip-loc bags of chopped vegetables, and, ultimately, a wooden rolling pin. It was like watching the Grinch and his bottomless bag of gifts at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas--every time she pulled out another item, I assumed it would be the last, but there was always one more to follow.
Right there in our dorm room, Ildiko mixed up a pie crust, deftly rolled it out on a piece of wax paper on my desktop, then transferred it, seamlessly, to the pie plate. Next she whipped together the eggs and cream, a few seasonings, and sprinkled in the chopped veggies. We baked the quiche in a toast-r-oven we had in the room, and as the scent began to fill the air, I suspected that quiche was something I was going to enjoy. Later, as we devoured slice after slice, the three of us polishing off the entire thing in no time, I learned that quiche came in infinite varieties–you could add pretty much any fillers you liked, but it was the custard that really defined it.
I can’t say I craved quiche over the years, but I did occasionally notice it on restaurant menus and think, “hmm, it would be nice to have a slice of that.” As with that first quiche back as an undergrad, though, it was the custardy texture that most appealed to me.
And then, I discovered silken tofu–and this recipe. This classic vegan quiche is one I found online and adapted (sorry, I can’t recall the source; so if the recipe looks familiar, please let me know!). To my palate, it reproduces almost exactly the same smooth-yet-firm, moist and creamy custardy filling. I’ve upped the veggies considerably compared to that first pie, but the general idea is remarkably similar to the “real thing.” In fact, this is one of my go-to recipes at home, and a regular feature when I teach gluten-free cooking classes.
With limitless possibilities for the vegetables in the filling, this quiche can be altered to your tastes and the occasion at hand. I use a handy millet crust, but again, feel free to change it up; if you’ve got a nice pastry crust that you think will go well with this, go ahead and use it.
To see Kim’s first spinach recipe (a creamy spinach and celeriac soup), check this post.
“Mum, real dogs do eat quiche, you know. As long as you pick out the onions, that is. And we like that custardy texture, too.”
Classic Tofu Quiche (ACD-friendly, Phase I and beyond)
The real beauty of this recipe is its versatility–as long as the volumes stay the same, you can use pretty much any vegetables in place of those listed.
For the crust:
1/2 cup (115 g) dry millet
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) vegetable broth or stock
pinch of fine sea salt
For the filling:
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 onion, diced
2 roasted red peppers or 1 fresh, sliced into thin strips
1 carrot, grated
1 cup very firmly packed spinach or chard leaves, stems removed, chopped
2 cups (700 g) firm or extra firm silken tofu, or soft tofu
1 Tbsp (15 ml) white miso (for ACD Phase I, use extra tahini)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) tahini (sesame paste)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) Bragg’s liquid aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Lightly grease a pie plate, or line with parchment paper.
Prepare the crust: Pour millet into a small pot and add the broth. Bring to boil over high heat, then lower heat to simmer, cover, and let simmer for 25 minutes, or until almost all the liquid is absorbed and the millet is soft and beginning to fall apart (if necessary, add extra stock until the millet reaches this consistency). Stir well, then immediately pour the millet into the pie pan and, using the back of a spoon or wet hands (and being careful not to burn yourself!), press the millet into the pie plate to create a “crust.” (Dipping the spoon or your hands in water helps). Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes until slightly dry.
Prepare the filling: Heat oil in a large frypan and sauté onions for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent and soft. Add the pepper, carrot, and spinach, and sauté for another 5 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and other ingredients begin to soften. Cover and turn off heat.
In a food processor or blender, mix the tofu, miso, tahini and Bragg’s until very smooth. Pour the mixture over the vegetables in the pan and stir to combine well. Turn into the crust in the pie pan, and smooth the top. If desired, sprinkle with a little paprika.
Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until the top is light golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes to set before serving. May be eaten hot, at room temperature, or cold. Makes 8 servings. May be frozen.
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I’m also linking this recipe to Linda’s Gluten-Free Wednesdays carnival over at The Gluten-Free Homemaker, as well as Meatless Monday at Hey What’s for Dinner and Meatless Monday at My Sweet and Savory.
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Two Years Ago: Cultured Vegetables