Thursday, July 8, 2010

Week 4: Spinach Calzone, and Other Good Stuff

Some weeks, inspiration comes slowly. Other times -- like this past week -- the cooking just comes together.
  • Curly parsley + fresh mint + SWISS CHARD (sorry, had to shout that) = Swiss Chard Spanakopita Casserole
  • Green cabbage + kasha + kitchen staples (onion, mushroom, carrot) = Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage
  • Spinach + cheeses + pizza dough = Spinach Calzone
  • Summer Squash + parsley + canned beans + tomatoes = Vegetarian chili
  • Red leaf lettuce + arugula + squash + radishes = a week of salads
The kids favored the calzones, so I feature that recipe below, but I do want to point you to the Swiss chard and cabbage recipes.

Swiss Chard Spanakopita Casserole is a Cooking Light recipe, available here. A construction note: If you can't find large sheets of phyllo dough (mine were only 9 by 14 inches, not the 18 by 14 inches specified in the recipe) just use a 9-inch-square pan. Layer the sheets of phyllo dough perpendicular to one another in the pan, so all sides are covered and the phyllo can encase the filling. Score the assembled casserole into nine pieces before baking.

The stuffed cabbage recipe, aka East European Style Cabbage Rolls in Sweet and Sour Tomato Sauce, comes from Blog Appetit. This one is not hard, but it has several steps to it: prepping the cabbage leaves, preparing the filling and sauce, assembling the rolls, and finally baking everything together. Bookmark this one for cooler weather. For the uninitiated, kasha is buckwheat groats; you'll find it in the kosher food section of your supermarket. For those familiar with kasha, note that the recipe calls for cooking the kasha the way you would for breakfast cereal -- not coated with egg to keep separate granules. The result is a solid filling that holds together when you spoon it onto the cabbage leaves. I might tweak the sauce a bit the next time I make this, but overall this was a satisfying meal.

The calzones were inspired by the coupon I had for a free pound of pizza dough -- and the just-right amount of spinach that came from the farm. You can use any commercially prepared or homemade dough, of course. The spicing is a bit different from what you might expect, but it worked. I have to thank Caboodle for staging and taking the photo of her plate.

Spinach and Cheese Calzones
(by way of Venetto's Italian Recipes at That's My Home)

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups coarse chopped fresh spinach (about 1/2 pound)
1 cup lowfat ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (2 ounces)
1 pound pizza dough
Extra olive oil (for shaping dough)
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal (for baking tray)
1 cup marinara sauce (for serving)

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cover. Cook onion over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook uncovered for about 1 minute, then stir in the spinach and cook until it wilts, about 2 minutes.

Place the vegetables in a bowl and let them cool a bit. Stir in ricotta, spices, egg yolk, and feta. If you wish, you can prepare the filling several hours ahead and refrigerate, but return it to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal.

Cut the dough into four equal pieces. Pat or roll each piece out to about a 7-inch circle. I found it was necessary to have a little olive oil on my pastry mat to keep the dough from sticking. Spoon a quarter of the filling onto half of each circle, leaving a margin around the edge. Fold over the dough to make half-moon shapes and press the edges with the tines of a fork to seal. Transfer filled calzones to the baking sheet. With a small, sharp knife, make two or three slashes in the top of each calzone to let steam escape. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. Serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

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