Ingredients & Fine Foods

Spinach Recipes: 70 Things To Do With Fresh Spinach

Fresh spinach is in season right now, and I got a huge bag of it from my favorite grower, so I’ve been looking for great spinach recipes to use it. I naturally turned to Twitter and Facebook to hear about your favorite spinach dishes, and I thought I’d share the master list. Thank you all for your inspired suggestions!

Best pairings for spinach recipes

– Spinach + garlic
– Spinach + cheese (especially fresh goat cheese, feta, ricotta)
– Spinach + sesame
– Spinach + eggs
– Spinach + cream
– Spinach + pasta
– Spinach + mushrooms
– Spinach + potatoes
– Spinach + nutmeg
– Spinach + lentils
– Spinach + raisins
– Spinach + bacon
– Spinach + fish
– Spinach + anchovies
– Spinach + rice
– Spinach + lemon

Sautéed spinach recipes

– Sautéed in butter
– Wilted in a pan with slivers of garlic (lots of it).
– Simply sauté with olive oil, sliced garlic and lemon juice.
– Spinaci alla romana, with pine nuts, garlic, and sultanas
– Toss in a hot skillet with garlic, olive oil, salt. Cover, remove from heat, wilt 5 min. Leftovers can be mixed into fromage blanc.
– Chop up spinach, sauté in sesame oil, and serve with quinoa or rice, and tofu baked with miso or soy sauce.
– Stir-fry quickly with garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, and a dash of soy sauce.
– Sautéed in a skillet with rice vinegar, a drizzle of sesame oil, toasted black sesame, and fresh ginger, Japanese-style.
One-pot spinach and quinoa pilaf

Spinach in baked dishes

– Spinach quiche, with leeks and gruyère
– Spinach and potato quiche with feta cheese
– Spinach tart or pie, with fresh goat cheese or camembert
– In a phyllo pie with feta, à la spanakopita
Torta pasqualina (Spinach and ricotta Easter pie)
– Spinach and ricotta lasagna
– Spinach pirojki
– Spinach börek

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Purslane Recipes: 45 Things To Do With Fresh Purslane

Purslane Recipes

Have you ever cooked with purslane, or Portulaca oleracea as it is known to botanists? It is a succulent plant whose edible, delicious leaves are crunchy and slightly mucilaginous, with a tangy lemony and peppery flavor.

It is generally harvested from early June till the end of summer, and can either be foraged or purchased, usually from a farmers market or through a CSA share. The wild variety, which is actually considered a weed by many gardeners, is rampant and has pinkish stems (see picture above), while cultivated varieties tend to grow vertically and display greenish stems.

Purslane has been consumed since ancient times, and because it grows easily in hot and not too dry climates, it is represented in many cuisines of the world, from Greece to Mexico, and from Turkey to India by way of South Africa. (Here’s a handy list of its aliases in different languages.)

It is a bit of a nutritional powerhouse, offering remarkable amounts of minerals (most notably calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium), omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins (A, B, C), and antioxydants. It is thought to be an important component of the Cretan high-life-expectancy diet, and Michael Pollan has called it one of the two most nutritious plants on the planet in his In Defense of Food manifesto (the other is lamb’s quarters if you want to hunt for that too).

Although the stems are edible when still young (and can be pickled), cooks usually keep only the leaves and thin, spindly stems at the top, which are simply plucked from the central stem. The process is slow-going, but rewarding in the end. Because purslane grows so close to the earth, and especially if it is foraged*, it should be rinsed very well, in several baths of fresh water (I usually do three), with a bit of vinegar.

And once you have your bowlful of squeaky clean and vibrant little leaves, what do you do with them? Purslane is mostly eaten raw, but can also be cooked for a change of pace. I’ve gathered 45 purslane recipes for you — and hope you’ll add your own favorites in the comments section!

* Some people report that they find it growing from sidewalk cracks or in city parks, but I wouldn’t recommend foraging it from there.

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Fresh Garlic, and What To Do With It

Unless you are one of those blessed people with an outdoor space and a vegetable garden and the opportunity to grow your own sprightly things, chances are you only ever see heads of garlic in dried form, their ivory cloves enclosed in a papery husk.

But I’m here to tell you that, as dried things usually go, those heads of garlic were once full of life and moisture, only freshly dug out from the ground in which they sprouted and grew.

In France, where we have a knack for naming things in a clever way, we call this ail frais (fresh garlic) or ail nouveau (new garlic), and it is a prized feature of springtime stalls, going for around 2€ a head (a little more if organic) in my neighborhood*.

Fresh garlic

This is not a particularly cheap price to pay for a single head of garlic (dried and therefore shelf-stable garlic is less costly for distributors to handle) but the flavor of fresh garlic cloves is subtle and vibrant, and a perfect match to the new crop of vegetables that typify the season — think asparagus, green peas, and thumb-sized potatoes.

Although the girth of these fresh heads of garlic is comparable to that of dried, they are in fact immature — if left to dry, they would shrink to a much smaller size — and the cloves themselves are pretty small, so the trick to getting your garlic money’s worth is to use the whole thing, à la nose-to-tail.

Here’s what I do.

Fresh garlic

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5-Ingredient Recipes: 140 Recipe Ideas In 5 Ingredients or Less

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Jules Clancy’s fantastic new book, 5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes, and offered to give away three copies as prizes in a 5-ingredient recipe contest.

You collectively submitted nearly 140 five-ingredient recipes, all of which sound fantastic and provide a fascinating glimpse into your personal tastes and appetites. It’s been very difficult to pick just three — why, oh why do I put myself in these situations? — but I had to, so I elected Ms. C’s pan-fried tofu with kale and noodles, Rakhi’s mujaddara, and Pierre Pozi’s sardine boulettes (submitted in the French version of the contest). Congratulations! You will soon be receiving your copy of 5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes.

And to thank you all for your invaluable contributions, I’ve collated your recipe formulas into a masterlist we can all dip into; recipe details can be found in the comment section of the original post. (If you read French, you’ll find even more 5-ingredient suggestions in the French masterlist.)

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Garlic: To Press Or Not To Press

Garlic

{See below about winning the garlic press to end all garlic presses.}

Over the years, I’ve gone back and forth on this burning issue: is it a good idea to press garlic?

The question sparks surprisingly violent debates, and often there’s an undercurrent of judgment (“real cooks just chop”) that I find out of place in any cooking discussion: there’s no single right way of doing anything, just different skills and circumstances.

As far as I can tell, here are the pros of each method:

Pros of pressing garlic:

– In just a few seconds and a single gesture, you get garlic pulp that you can add to your dish right away.
– If your knife skills aren’t those of a pro, it can be a challenge to get the garlic chopped evenly so it will cook evenly.
– Pressed garlic blends smoothly with other ingredients, which is particularly useful if you use it raw.
– It limits the lingering smell on your fingers, since you can avoid touching the garlic altogether if you prefer.

Pros of chopping by hand:

– It takes more time to clean the average garlic press than a knife and a cutting board, which you would probably have to clean anyway.
– No one-trick pony taking up space in your utensil drawer.
– You have control over how finely or roughly your garlic is cut.
– You use the whole clove, with none wasted in the crevices of the press.

In my own kitchen, I use a bit of both methods, and sometimes I’ll use my Microplane grater, too. I will usually chop my garlic if I’m already chopping other ingredients, but I reach for the garlic press when I’m pressed for time (ha ha), especially if I add the garlic as a second thought when I’m improvising a dish.

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