Category Archives: Spinach

Salad of Muscat Orange Champagne Vinaigrette and Falafel Croquettes

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Hello! Another salad day…I started out making one kind of salad but ended up in a different direction. I thought it turned out great, though I wasted time by not thinking things through. You should always have a plan (but not be too rigid where you can’t make improvements!). I don’t think my pictures do this salad justice as they are a bit busy looking. There is actually gorgeous fresh spinach at the bottom of the bowl. The spinach was great as the canvas for the orange flavor, the parsley, tahini and falafel. Spinach salad is classically paired with red onion and orange. There is a reason for this – it’s darn good!!!

I purchased some Muscat Orange Champagne Vinegar at Trader Joe’s a few weeks back in anticipation of making a salad dressing. When I finally opened the bottle of vinegar it wasn’t quite what I pictured. It was a bit musky and not too orange-y. While making my dressing, I thankfully had saved the innards of the orange I segmented and added the lovely squeezed juice. If you don’t have the fancy Muscat Vinegar, just use what you have on hand and add orange juice. I have done this many times before and will do it many more times. I also used the TJ frozen falafel. I keep them in the freezer along with some pita bread  or lavash for last-minute meals. I hope you are inspired to try this dressing!

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Salad of Muscat Orange Champagne Vinaigrette and Falafel Croquettes (Serves 2 – 4)

For the dressing:

4 tbsp Muscat Orange Champagne Vinegar or other vinegar (see notes above)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 or 2 oranges or up to 4 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp tahini
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, adding more orange juice as needed for flavor. Set aside.

1 bunch of fresh spinach leaves, washed thoroughly and spun dry
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup of grape tomatoes or other small tomatoes
1 large juicing orange
1 small red onion
2 small Persian cucumbers or 1 hothouse duke
Salt & pepper to taste
6 frozen or pre-made falafel
4 tbsp tahini
1 small lemon

Cook the falafel as directed on the package. In the meantime, roughly chop the spinach and place in a bowl. Toss in the parsley and tomatoes and set aside (I cut my in half to make it easier to chew – do as you please). Segment the orange and cut the segments into bite-sized pieces, then add to the salad. Here is a tutorial on how to segment citrus. It’s really easy to do and it’s a useful skill! Slice 1/2 of the red onion finely and toss in the bowl. Chop up the cucumbers into bite-sized pieces and add to the party. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper to taste over the salad and toss gently. Divide the salad into portions. Dress each salad with the vinaigrette to taste.

Top each salad with 2 to 4 falafel croquettes. I cut them in half since they were pretty big. Now mix the tahini and the juice of the lemon or 2 tbsp lemon juice until it’s a thick sauce. Add water as necessary if it’s too thick. Top each falafel with a few spoons of tahini sauce. Enjoy!

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Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach

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Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach

Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life… I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post. Spring has brought so many chores and activities that have kept me away from blogging for the past few weeks. Hopefully I can get the momentum going again and start posting more frequently!

This morning I woke up early with the kids. It’s a sunny-cloudy day, so we aren’t sure if it’s about to pour down rain or if we should get outside while the weather holds. Either way, with a very active day ahead I wanted to make a high-protein breakfast this morning. I decided on tofu and a vegetarian sausage along with some fresh organic strawberries and a left-over chappati from last night.

A word about the sausage: I found this pack of Harmony Valley Vegetarian Sausage Mix at Henry’s Market.

I used a portion of it over the last few months adding a little of it to chili and jambalaya with great success. I finished up the pack today by adding water, letting it rest, forming it into patties and then shallow frying in a bit of oil. The texture is fantastic and the taste is great. I like this more than the Gimme Lean brand of sausage for making patties. If you can find it at your local grocery, I recommend you try it out.

Here’s my recipe for Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach. If you don’t have the individual spices listed, you may substitute 2 tsp curry powder. I have seen lots of similar recipes in cookbooks and on blogs, so can’t attribute my adaptation to any one source.

Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach

Serves 4

  • 1 package of firm or extra-firm tofu (not silken)
  • 2 – 4 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped (I used spring onions with green tops)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped (or 1 cup frozen, thawed, water squeezed out)
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, cut in bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder (optional)
  • 1/2 avocado, diced (optional)

Method:

  1. Press the water out of the tofu: Remove the tofu from packaging and place on a towel-lined plate. Place another towel on top of the tofu and then a can of something as a weight or another plate inverted. This will press out a lot of the water. Let it sit like this until step 5.
  2. Heat a skillet or saute pan over medium heat and add the oil.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic. Stir around occasionally for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili (if using) (or the curry powder  if using in place of these spices) and the salt. Stir to incorporate and let cook for 1 minute.
  5. Crumble the tofu with your hands and add it to the pan. Stir it around, but don’t mash it. I like it to remain pretty chunky. (Actually this is a personal choice – some people may like it more finely crumbled – so crumble it to the size you like!)
  6. Allow the tofu to start getting brown spots here and there. Let it cook for about 3 minutes, stirring about once every minute.
  7. Add the spinach and allow to cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Make sure that any water that was added along with the spinach evaporates. You may have to increase the heat a bit.
  8. Turn off the heat and stir in the tomatoes and garam masala (if using). Allow to sit for a minute before serving.
  9. After plating, top with the avocado (if using). You can also top it with hot sauce or another condiment…Enjoy!

Korma Meets Filo Pie

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Korma Meets Filo Pie

Hello and welcome to This Spicy Life… Today India meets Greece in a pie made with a crust of filo (phyllo) dough and a nice korma for the filling. It’s a perfect marriage of creamy korma and flaky filo resulting in an extremely tasty meal.

This pie is inspired by a recipe from my brother who makes a delicious Greek Spinach Pie. He lives far away so I haven’t had his version for several years. I do remember fondly that it’s stuffed with tons of veggies such as zucchini, carrot, green beans and lots of spinach.

My korma recipe is a non-traditional take on a traditional north Indian korma. The recipe I adapted comes from Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni. I changed a few of her ingredients and made it without any dairy, keeping with the pure vegetarian theme of this blog. And I used way less oil than the original recipe called for – I used about 4 tablespoons of oil/margarine while the original recipe called for 12 tablespoons (plus paneer). But then there is added oil in the crust…oh well! You can use a variety of vegetables in this recipe. Just substitute similar veggies if possible. Broccoli would be excellent as well as leeks and peas.

A note about the filo: when I started making my brother’s spinach pie recipe on my own I experimented with using less oil on the filo leaves. It doesn’t work. I tried to oil just every other leaf (resulting in too dry, fly-away layers) and only the top layers thinking the juice would sink in (it only made a soggy mess). If you are scared of using oil, try using a traditional savory pie crust or just serve the korma with naan or rice.

Korma Meets Filo Pie

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 stick cinnamon (or 1 tsp cinnamon powder)*
  • 12 cardamom pods, crushed and skins removed (or 2 tsp cardamom powder)
  • 20 cloves (or 2 tsp clove powder)*
  • 2 cups onions, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 cup potatoes, diced in 1/4″ cubes
  • 1 cup cauliflower stems, chopped in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup carrots, diced in 1/2″ cubes or chunks
  • 2 cups cauliflower flowers, chopped in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup spinach, fresh or frozen, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, cooked
  • 5 tbsp ground almonds (powder or paste)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp margarine or butter (or other fat), softened
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup soy milk creamer (or other cream)
  • 1/2 pkg filo (phyllo) dough, thawed in refrigerator overnight and set out at room temperature unopened for at least 20 minutes)
  • 4 tbsp oil (approximately) for brushing the filo leaves

For the Korma:

  1. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add 2 tbsp oil.
  2. To the hot oil, add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
  3. When the spices become fragrant (after about 30 – 60 seconds), add the onions and allow to cook until they become translucent. Stir frequently.
  4. Add the garlic, ginger and green chilies and stir. Allow to cook for a few more minutes until the onions start to get brownish on the edges (but not burned!).
  5. Add 2 tsp of salt, potatoes, carrots and cauliflower stems.
  6. Cook for about 5 minutes before adding the remaining cauliflower and spinach. (*see note below)
  7. Stir in the almond powder/paste and allow to cook for about a minute.
  8. Add the chickpeas and 1 cup of water. Stir everything together, lower the heat to the medium low and cover the pot. Stir occasionally and allow to cook until the veggies are cooked through (but not mushy). Add more water as needed but never more than barely covers the veggies. (The veggies can cook with the steam created when the pot is covered.)
  9. Remove from the heat. Remove most of the liquid using a spoon and reserve.
  10. Mix the margarine/butter with the flour in a small bowl. Be sure to mix it well so that all of the flour is fully incorporated.
  11. Stir 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid into the flour mixture, then add this back to the veggie mixture.
  12. Add the cream and stir well.
  13. Add additional reserved liquid if necessary to make a very thick gravy.
  14. Taste for salt and add more if necessary.

For the assembly of the pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Oil a round deep-dish pie plate (2 inches or more in-depth) or an 8″ x 8″ square (or similar size) baking dish.
  3. Put 4 tbsp oil in a small bowl. Set aside with a pastry brush.
  4. Remove the filo dough from the packaging and place on a cookie sheet or other surface.
  5. Cut the dough in half from long end to long end. Put half of the stack of dough under a moist towel while you work with the other half.
  6. With the pastry brush and working quickly, pick up a bit of oil and spread gently on the first layer of dough. Spread all around, don’t be too stingy but don’t have pools of oil either. Be sure to get oil on the edges and corners.
  7. Place this sheet in your pie plate or baking dish.
  8. Repeat with 8 more layers of filo, alternating the layers cross-wise. It’s okay if some of them rip a little bit. The layers should hang over the side of the dish.
  9. Now add the filling – spoon 3 – 4 cups or more (depending on the size of your dish) into the center and flatten out to the edges of the dish. You most likely will have korma left over.
  10. Repeat oiling and placing layers of filo, using 6 layers for the top.
  11. Roll the overhanging dough under and gently tuck into the sides of the pie. (This is a rustic pie, so doesn’t have to be perfect!)
  12. Score some vents in the top of the pie with a knife so that steam will escape.
  13. Place in the oven for 20 – 40 minutes or until nice and lightly browned on the top. (I know that this is a wide range of time but it depends on the size of your baking dish and how full your pie is…the filling is cooked, it’s just the filo that needs to cook and get browned.)
  14. While your pie is in the oven, wrap up your leftover filo and put it back in the freezer.
  15. Allow the pie to set up for about 10 – 15 minutes before cutting and serving. BTW, it’s normal for the top of the pie to break up into little crispy goodness pieces 🙂

*While cooking the veggies in Step 6, you may want to pick out as many cloves as you can find along with the cinnamon stick (you can skip this step if you don’t mind serving with the whole spices or you can substitute ground spices for the whole spices).

Spinach Tofu Curry

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Spinach Tofu Curry

Hello! and welcome…I’m back in the saddle after a brief break. I have a lot of recipes to post this week, so let’s get started!

One of my readers requested a recipe for palak paneer (spinch-cheese curry). I wanted to try a different recipe for palak paneer since there are so many varieties. After much hand-wringing I went back to my go-to recipe since I know how it turns out and I think it’s a great variation. It’s also super easy to make and doesn’t require any special ingredients from the Indian grocery store. This recipe is a riff on a recipe my Dear Mother-In-Law gave me years ago and actually appears in her cookbook, Green Leafy Vegetables.

Please note that I use tofu in place of paneer but feel free to use it if you can get it or if you make your own. This recipe is also very tasty with potatoes cooked in the gravy instead of or in addition to the tofu or paneer.

Spinach Tofu Curry (or Palak Tofu)

Serves 4

  • 1+ tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp margarine (or butter or ghee)
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 1  green chili, finely chopped (or to taste, optional)
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce (or 1/2 tsp tomato paste or 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh tomato)
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen but thawed spinach, finely chopped*
  • Water
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 8 oz (approximately) firm or extra-firm tofu, pressed (or paneer)
  • additional oil for preparing tofu/paneer/potatoes
  • 4 tbsp yogurt (soy or other) (optional)

Start by heating the 1 tbsp oil and the margarine/butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the cloves and bay leaf and let cook for about 30 seconds. Add the onion and stir around while it turns translucent, adding a little bit more oil if it starts to stick. When the onion starts to turn brown on the edges stir in the garlic, ginger and green chili (if using). Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, adding a little bit of oil or water if it starts sticking. Add the tomato sauce and salt and stir. Wait for one minute and then stir in the spinach and garam masala. If the mixture is very thick, add a little water to make it the consistency of gravy. (The amount of water that you will need to add depends on how you will eat the curry. If you are eating it with bread, then you want a drier mixture. If you are having it with rice, then make it a little wetter.) Turn the heat to low and allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the spinach is simmering, prepare the tofu/paneer. Cut it into bite sized pieces. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add 2 tbsp of oil. Add the tofu/paneer pieces and fry until light golden brown. Flip over and fry the other side the same way. Remove from the pan and drain.

Add the tofu/paneer to the spinach mixture and allow to simmer for another 2 minutes. Before serving, turn off the heat and add the yogurt (if using) and stir gently. Serve with chapatis, naan or rice.

*I used fresh spinach. I washed it well and drained the water. I put it into my vitamix (blender) with water to cover and processed until it was finely chopped. You can also use a food processor or hand chop if you like.