Quinoa, Spinach and Feta Cheese Bake is the flavour of this week’s Sunday night dinner. With everyone out of town last night (except Dennis and I) dinner was rather low keyed. My sister and her husband arrived Friday night for their annual skiing trip up to whistler which meant mom and Gillian were also up there, so there was just the two of us. This week, I decided to make our theme vegetarian (and gluten-free) so I pulled out a recipe we love that I’ve made several times in the past. Earlier this month I had seen a recipe in a magazine that intrigued me. It probably wouldn’t have caught my attention except there was a letter from a reader that said she ate this dish at Alimento Find Food Emporium on King Street West in Toronto and she had to find the recipe for the Brussels sprout salad it was so good. I have never been a huge fan of Brussels sprouts, but the girl reviewing the recipe in the magazine (House and Home March 2012) was so enthusiastic about this salad that I had to try it. However, finding Brussels s sprouts when it’s not Christmas or Thanksgiving is harder than I expected.
Brussels sprouts are wonderful vegetables and they have a great reputation for being good for fighting cancer. High in fibre, Brussels sprouts are wonderful for the digestive tract and lowering the risk of colon cancer. They are high in folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin K and beta-carotene, and contain vitamin B6, thiamine and potassium. Eat them as fresh as possible to get maximum taste and nutrition, but if you grow too many they can be blanched and kept in your freezer. (From http://www.drweil.com)
Roasted beets were the third addition to the meal. Except for the fact that I over cooked the spinach and quinoa bake, dinner was fabulous. The Brussels sprout salad was spectacular and I highly recommend trying it. I guarantee your guests will not know the greens are shredded Brussels sprouts and they will love it. (Honest, trust me!)
Here is the recipe for the Quinoa, Feta cheese spinach bake:
Quinoa, Feta Cheese- Spinach Bake!
Serves 4 as a main dish
- Olive –oil cooking spray
- Breadcrumbs for baking dish (you can purchase gluten free breadcrumbs if needed)
- 1 pound spinach leaves, picked and washed (you can also use ¾ cup frozen chopped spinach- thawed)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- ½ cup chopped red pepper
- 1 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves or (1 tsp dried)
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
- ½ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes – you can leave this out if you think it will be too spicy.
- 2 cups cooked Quinoa
- 1 cup shredded feta cheese – goat feta is best
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- **optional – I add 2 Tablespoons fresh pesto
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8X8 inch baking dish greased. Coat with breadcrumbs and set aside.
2. Fill a large bowl with ice and water, set aside. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add spinach; blanch until bright green – about 10 seconds. Transfer to ice bath. When spinach is cold, remove from ice bath, squeeze out all water, and finely chop – set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add onion, garlic, chopped red pepper, basil, rosemary and red pepper flakes and sauté until translucent, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; transfer to a medium bowl.
4. Add spinach, quinoa, feta cheese, pepper, pesto and eggs to the onion mixture and stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and place in the oven. Bake until set and edges are brown, 55-60 minutes. Slice and serve warm, cold or at room temp.
***I also make this using brown rice instead of quinoa and it is delicious. Also you can use the crumbled goat chevre cheese instead of the feta cheese. Sometimes I add extra vegetables like mushrooms, tomatoes and peas. You can play with this and see what you like yourself. It is great hot or packed for lunch and eaten cold.
The Brussels Sprouts Salad is made with pancetta, parmesan cheese, a medium sized apple and 3 dozen Brussels sprouts. The flavours are magical and the dressing was wonderful. It is really a salad I would serve often if I could find the main ingredient all year round it is packed with flavour and is very nutritious. If you have a sense of adventure, I recommend you serve this for dinner one night in place of a regular salad and watch the reaction of the people around the table.
Brussels Sprout Salad:
- 10 slices of pancetta (about 2mm thick)
- 4 oz. Parmesan or Reggiano cheese
- 1 medium sizes Motsu apple (I used a gala apple and it was great)
- 3 dozen Brussels Sprouts
- ½ cup caramelized pancetta vinaigrette (see below)
Caramelized pancetta vinaigrette:
- 1 shallot, peeled
- 1 tsp. grainy mustard
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1/4 cup reserved pancetta fat
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar (I used Apple Cider Vinegar)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. chopped chives
1. Bake pancetta on parchment paper placed on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Reserve whatever fat you can from the pancetta but no more than ¼ cup.
2. Toss all dressing ingredients except olive oil and chives n a blender and blend on high until smooth, slowly adding oil until emulsified. Add chives and mix by hand. (store extra dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week)
3. Shave cheese into long, thin curls using a vegetable peeler. Cut apple into matchsticks using a mandolin or sharp knife. Shave Brussels sprouts into very thin slices using a mandolin or sharp knife. Toss all together in a bowl until well mixed, and then add just enough dressing to coat.
Voila! A delicious and nutritious salad that everyone will enjoy.
I’ve given you the roasted beets recipe before but just in case you missed it, here are the simple steps to a delicious vegetable dish.
Roast Balsamic Beets with Goat Cheese
- 1 lb beets
- 4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 2-3 oz soft un-ripened goat cheese (chevre)
- Chopped parsley for garnish
- Roast beets whole or in quarters in 350 degrees oven in glass dish covered with aluminum foil.
- Let cool slightly and peel (with gloves on the peel just slips off, or use paper towel)
- Chop into chunks
- Meanwhile, mix maple syrup with balsamic vinegar and reduce over low heat until slightly thickened.
- Toss with beets and sprinkle with goat cheese and parsley.
Recipe by Anita Sauvé.
For a low keyed dinner, it was a delicious mixture of flavours that were all unique and blended together well. In our house we really try and have at least three vegetarian meals each week and make sure they are as well thought out as the dishes that offer meat and fish.
I would serve this meal to any guests who came for dinner. I would also include dessert but for last night’s dinner with just the two of us I skipped that part of the meal, we did have a fabulous glass of wine though.
Please stop by next week when we’ll have another Sunday Night Dinner at Julia’s place.