Posts Tagged ‘Spinach’

Greetings All.  I hope that you’re enjoying a fruitful fast.  This fast marks my first strict fast since Nativity 08.  I’m done “eating for two”, for now.  This fasting stuff is really hard.  Hang in there!

Today’s recipe comes from Martha Stewart.  A couple of quick changes to the recipe make it fast friendly and (forgive me, Martha) better.  Below is my version, but you will find a link to Ms. Stewart’s at the end of this post.

In the beginning I promised to provide recipes with ingredients that are easy to find.  It seems like quinoa is gaining popularity and I hope that it is at your local mega-mart or health food store.  (UPDATE: In 2018, six years later, quinoa is ubiquitous and even comic in it’s commonality.  Weird)

Remember to rinse quinoa several times BEFORE COOKING, otherwise it is bitter.  You can make quinoa in a rice cooker, if that suits you.

Quinoa is considered a “complete protein” so eat it up.

This might seem like a really light recipe, but I found it very rich.  I think it stands on its own.  Let me know in the comments if you agree.  If you disagree let me know by comment and recommend a side dish, please.

Don’t skimp on mushrooms, and they need to be fresh.  Be sure to use red wine vinegar.

***WARNING***  This recipe calls for broiling oily mushrooms.  Watch them carefully and DO NOT walk away.  THEY WILL CATCH ON FIRE! 

(If you’d rather just roast them that might work.  Let me know)

Warm Quinoa shiitake Spinach Salad (Adapted from Martha Stewart Living)


  • 1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 pounds fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved, wiped clean
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 10 ounces baby spinach


1.  Lord, bless my work.

2.  Heat broiler; set rack 4 inches from heat.  In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/4tsp black pepper.

3.  On a large rimmed broiler-proof baking sheet, toss mushrooms with half the dressing (reserve the rest); broil, tossing occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.  TIME VARIES WIDELY AND WILDLY Don’t walk away, keep an eye on the mushrooms.  You want them cooked, but not dry.  You may need to test a few.  You’re trying to get them chewy, not crunchy.

4.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan (or rice cooker), combine quinoa, 3 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cover, and simmer until liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

5.  Place spinach in a large bowl; add hot mushrooms, quinoa, and reserved dressing. Toss to combine (spinach will wilt slightly). Serve immediately.

Or, if you’d rather try Martha’s



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My goal for lent was to post a new recipe each day.  Between travel and beloved house guests I haven’t been faithful.  To make up for it, today, I will post two recipes that we enjoyed over the last two days.  I apologize.  I didn’t take pictures.  They were beautiful dishes, and tasty, which is why I don’t have leftovers to show you.

This soup has a nice flavor, the herbs are the primary flavor so don’t skimp on them.

Beans and Greens Soup (about 4 quarts)

1 cup of dried beans (or half a bag) soaked at least 6 hours

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 small onions, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

4 garlic cloves, chopped finely

1 celery stalk, sliced thinly

2 carrots, sliced thinly

5 cups water

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried marjoram

1 bay leaf

4 1/2 ounces leafy greens (kale, chard, spinach, mustard or a mix) depending on the variety this would be a few packed cups

salt and pepper (you’ll need a lot to taste)

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2. Drain the beans and put in the pot, add enouch cold water to bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse.

Step 3. Heat oil in the pot, then add onion and cook, covered, for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until just softened.  Add the garlic, celery, and carrots, and cook for 2 minutes.

Step 4. add the water, beans, thyme, marjoram, and bay leaf.  When the mixture bubbles, reduce the heat.   Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/4 horus, or until the beans are tender.  Season to taste.

Step 5. Let the soup cool slightly, then transfer 2 cups to the blender, blend until smooth and combine with the soup.

Step 6. Cut the grens crosswise into thin ribbons, a handful at a time.  Spinach needs less time to cook than kale or mustard, so cook them for a shorter time.  Cook greens uncovered for a maximum of 10 minutes or until all greens are tender.

Step 7. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  The beans will soak up most of the flavor so you may need to add more salt or herbs.  Serve.

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Happy St. Patrick’s day!  Not celebrating with corned beef is a fact of Orthodox life.  But, no Shamrock Shake on St. Patty’s day is almost too much for me.  I know that fasting foods should be simple and plain.  On this very important feast day (I was raised Catholic) I claim oikonomia.

Plus, Shamrock Shakes are healthy.  One of my favorite funnymen Remy, of GoRemy.com, says in his McDonald’s rap:

“They say, ‘you’re playing with a cardiac arrest, my boy’
Only thing bad for my heart’s when they forget my toy
Now I’m-a have a milkshake, but before you rant
It’s made of shamrocks–now that’s a plant”

The real McD’s shake has no plants, but mine does.  The peppermint extract covers the taste of the spinach.  Soy milk offers protein.   The coconut milk or cream of coconut is important to make the shake creamy.  You need the fat to make it more like the real McCoy.


Fasting Shamrock Shake

8 Ice Cubes

Soy milk

3 Tbsp cream of coconut, or coconut milk (if you use plain coconut milk you may want a sweetener)

1 Tbsp frozen spinach, or equivalent raw spinach

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2. Place ice cubes in blender, add enough soy milk to almost cover.  (About a cup)

Step 3. Blend thoroughly, until smooth.  Add additional ingredients and blend until very smooth.  Drink it up!

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Our old parish, Holy Ascension, draws a lot of students.  I’ve heard that some of you students need fasting recipes.  For you I’ve created a “minimal equipment” category. “Minimal equipment” recipes can easily be made in the dorm kitchen with a knife, cutting board, and a pot.  Heck, they’re so easy and convenient you could even whip one up for coffee hour.

Today’s recipe is cheap, quick, and requires minimal equipment.  Oh, but that isn’t all.  This recipe is very nutritious.   Because the spinach cooks down (shrinks) considerably you will get a ton of green vegetable goodness in a single serving.  A 3 cup serving of raw spinach has 2 grams of protein, 110% of your recommended allowance of vitamin A, 40% vitamin C, and 15% iron.  A 2 ounce serving of pasta (about 2/3 cup dry pasta) has 7 grams of protein and 15-40% of B vitamins like niacin, thiamin, and more.  The beans, Northern or Garbanzo, and whole wheat pasta are complementary proteins and help to fill you up.


Penne with Spinach and White Beans (about 4 servings)

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 onion, minced (about 1 1/2 cups)

3 large garlic cloves, minced

5-6 cups raw spinach or Swiss chard (about 1/2 of a bag or 1 large bunch), very roughly chopped

1 15-ounce can of Northern beans or Chick peas (or 2 cups prepared dry beans)

1 15-ounce can of stewed tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

6 ounces penne pasta (about a half box)

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2. Boil water for pasta, cook pasta.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet, add chopped onion.  Cook onion about 5 minutes until it begins to get transparent.  Add garlic and cook about 1 minute.

Step 3. To onion and garlic add chopped spinach or swiss chard cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until spinach is a brilliant green and has cooked down.  Add the juice from the can of tomatoes.

Step 4. With a pair of scissors, or with your knife, roughly chop tomatoes right there in their own can.  Sounds gruesome doesn’t it?  Meh.  Add the chopped tomatoes and beans to the skillet.  Simmer 5 minutes until the beans are warm.  Serve over pasta.

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colorful and steamy

After my daughter’s birth a very thoughtful Preoteasa J brought us this wonderful soup.  The beans are packed with protein, the spinach is very nutritious, and the sun dried tomatoes taste great.  Spinach contains huge amounts of vitamin K.  Vitamin K is necessary for proper blood clotting.  Vitamin K is also synthesized in the guts.  That means babies cannot process this vitamin until a few days following birth.  Consequently, hospitals usually administer a vitamin K shot to babies.  Since we had a home birth, and thus no vitamin K shot,I was especially glad to get a big bowl of spinach soup afterward.  It was great for recovery for me, and a good beginning for S.

With this soup you may wish to add a complementary grain to make the most of the protein in the beans.  I recommend brown rice as a side dish, or you may add it to the soup.  Wheat crackers will also complement the beans.  Adding a complement increases the available protein by 43%.  (According to the Lappe).  In a non fast period you could add Parmesan cheese for the same effect.

Also, this is a great chance to try browning onions without oil.  According to D.J. Mesfin, author of Exotic Ethiopian Cooking, Ethiopian cooks almost never use oil for cooking onions.  “In all your cooking, except when you cook mild dishes, make sure that you brown your onions without adding oil or butter.  This needs your undivided attention to avoid scorching…”  The key here is to keep stirring and add a tablespoon of water if things get ugly.  No need to worry if things do get ugly because everything happens in one pot!  Any stuck onions will come off during the gentle simmer.

I have adapted this recipe from the Bush’s Bean website to improve its nutritional value and to make it fast friendly.

Florentine Cannellini One Pot Soup

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

Indispensable in an Orthodox pantry

1 bag of fresh spinach (10 or 16 oz)

1 15.5 oz can of dark red kidney beans

1 15.5 oz can of light red kidney beans

1 15.5 oz can of cannellini beans *

Homemade sun dried tomatoes.

5 1/2 cups of water or vegetable broth

3 tsp better than bouillon vegetable base (omit if using vegetable broth)

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, cut into strips

1 tsp dried basil

salt to taste

Step 1. Lord, bless my work.

Step 2. Cook onion and garlic in a large stock pot or dutch oven.  You may use oil or water to saute.

Step 3. Add spinach and 1 tablespoon of water.  Cover.  Cook 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted.

Step 4. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 10 minutes.

*  If you can not find Canellini beans, Great Northern beans work just as well.  In fact, feel free to use all red kidney beans in this recipe as the different colors are simply for looks.

I like to make this soup in double batches.  There is very little preparation so a double batch doesn’t take much longer.  Then I put the soup in pint jars (leaving one inch head space) and freeze.  A pint is a good single serving.  Pre-made meals are really good in Lent when we should think about food as little as possible.

Five pints of soup for later

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