As we head in to the festive season, I find that I need to balance out the indulgences of this time of year, with home cooked, healthy (at least semi-healthy) meals.
Packed full of goodness, and also gluten-free (for any of you who are gluten intolerant), this baked quinoa “pie” with spinach and feta is as comforting as it looks. Hot from the oven, the quinoa are almost pillowed amongst the ingredients, adding a lightness that you wouldn’t get if I omitted them. I only need to cook for two, so I made enough for four, split the mixture in to two small pie tins, and will freeze the other portion for a time when I need something easy, quick and delicious. All I have to do is warm up and eat.
This recipe is really versatile – adding in ham or bacon would work too.
Ingredients (for one large pie to feed four or two smaller pies)
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
- 200g feta (you can also substitute ricotta or even cottage cheese)
- 4 large eggs
- Splash of milk
- 1 cup of grated parmesan, divided in to two portion
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F
- Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until tender and the germ is visible
- Stir in the spinach leaves as you fluff the quinoa – the residual heat will wilt the leaves
- Crumble the feta in and mix
- In a bowl, whisk the eggs with a splash of milk and one portion of the parmesan
- Add a pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper – don’t over-salt as the cheeses will already add some savouriness to the dish
- Loosely spoon the quinoa mixture into your pie dish, pour over the egg mixture and combine the two in the dish
- Flatten the top and sprinkle the second portion of parmesan over the top
- Bake for 30-35 mins until the top is golden
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then enjoy hot !
A delicious salad that would make a great lunch or as a lighter side to a juicy steak or roast, rather than the usual roasted vegetables.
Fun fact: I think potatoes have had a bit of a bad rap with their high GI. However, if you dry cook potatoes (ie roasted vs boiled) and also allow them to cool, their GI actually lowers. It has to do with the effort your body has to expend to digest foods and increasing their resistant starch. I won’t go into the details – you can do more research if you want, here is a nice quick reference if you’re interested.
Keep the potato skins on for added nutrition. The skins have B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium and also provides lots of fibre. Be sure to wash the potato well and remove any obvious blemishes before cooking.
Ingredients serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side
- 750 g new potatoes or if using larger ones, select a waxy variety, like the red potato, so they “hold together” when you mix them
- *optional – rosemary
- 4 rashers of streaky bacon
- 1 bunch of spinach leaves
- 1 clove garlic – skin on
- 2 tbls red wine vinegar
- 1 tbls dijon mustard
- 3 tbls olive oil (see note below)
- *optional – squirt of mayonnaise
- Good handful of grated fresh parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F
- Place the potatoes in a baking tray
- Drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper and rosemary if you have it
- Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes
- Pop your clove of garlic in with the potatoes 10 minutes before they have to come out
- COOL YOUR POTATOES TO ROOM TEMPERATURE
- Blanch the spinach leaves until wilted, drain and squeeze out as much liquid as you can – you don’t want a soggy salad !
- Pan-fry or microwave the bacon till their nice and crispy
- Make your dressing
- Remove the skin from the garlic and either mince/mash into a jar with a tight fitting lid
- Add the red wine vinegar, mustard, oil, mayonnaise (the mayonnaise makes the dressing a teeny bit creamier – use as much or as little as you like but add that in a little at a time until you get the desired consistency
- Pop the lid on and shake well to mix
- Add the cooled potatoes, spinach, crumbled bacon to a large bowl
- Dress lightly – you want the dressing to just coat the potatoes, not be gluggy
- Top with grated parmesan and mix again
- Season with salt and pepper to taste
NOTE: I think anchovies are one of the best things in the world, and always have a big jar of marinated anchovies in my fridge. When cooked they don’t smell too fishy, they melt into the sauce and add a complex savoury note to whatever dish you are making. With this dish, instead of using plain olive oil, I used the anchovy oil. You’ll need to make sure you taste the final dressing and dish before you season with salt so it’s not too salty.
Do you really need a recipe for a salad ? I guess not, but I was so impressed at just how good my salad looked that I wanted to record it for posterity. I need as much encouragement as I can with salads. It’s not that I don’t like them, there are just so many better alternatives in my eyes (or stomach). And I think with salads there are some combinations that just work better than others. Enjoy and feel healthy while your eyes feast on the joyful colours in the bowl 🙂
- Butternut pumpkin
- Sea salt
- Olive oil
- Pine nuts
- Baby spinach leaves
- Dried cranberries
- Dried apple
- Cut the pumpkin into chunks, toss in some olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt and roast in a hot oven (200C/390F) for 40 minutes
- Dry fry the pine nuts till they have a nice golden brown colour
- Mix everything together and dress with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste
A night in by myself made me fancy quiche florentine – it reminds me of quiche I used to serve in a cafe back in Sydney – how good the bacon smelled, and how the perfectly just-set eggy goodness wobbled when I served it.
- Pastry for one 9 inch crust pie
- 10 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled (or you can use thinly sliced ham)
- 1 c. shredded cheese (I use half cheddar, half gruyere)
- 1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry
- 3 eggs
- 1 c. light cream
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- Blind bake pastry shell for 20 minutes at 180C and let dry for 5 minutes in the oven. Reduce heat to 150C
- Sprinkle bacon, spinach and cheese in the pastry-lined tray
- Beat eggs slightly with the cream. Pour cream mixture into pie pan
- Bake 30-35 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean
- Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
I love cooking, and every now and then I like to cook really fidlly and involved dishes – although perhaps choosing to cook spinach and ricotta cannelloni on a Thursday night was a mistake. I should have left it for the weekend where time was on my side.
It’s got all the makings of what should be delicious – healthy spinach (I’m still on a detox high), creamy ricotta, bechamel sauce, topped with napolitana sauce and then more cheese – but what a messy and time consuming dish it is ! Thing is, nothing every made me think otherwise, and I’m just about to take it out of the oven so I might change my mind after I’ve got a full belly, but man oh man I think I used up every pot and dish I had in the kitchen (and believe me, I have a LOT).
I followed the BBC food recipe (here) if you’re interested 🙂 I made a few changes – 60g butter and flour instead to make a creamier bechamel sauce, and wilted 300g of fresh spinach in a pan (I feel like you keep in the nutrients and flavour more than using boiled spinach)