I can’t stop thinking about David Sedaris’ essay Our Perfect Summer as I see houses along our street, through town, and across the island start to perk up. Cars are in the driveways, lawns are mowed, and windows are open. For some reason I completely forgot about Memorial Day weekend this year and was actually wondering why town was so crowded yesterday (duh).
I wished our favorite cashiers luck at the grocery store this morning and know there are hardworking friends I won’t see until September but we have been counting down to this moment for six months so it’s time to celebrate. I am planning on packing in as many festive weekend activities as possible. If you happen to be invited to a picnic this springy green rice is the perfect thing to bring.
Wild Rice with Spinach, Lemon, & Dill
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter (or a mix)
1 cup finely chopped scallions, including an inch or two of the greens
1 cup wild rice
1 large handful baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons dill, chopped
1 lemon, zest and juice
Salt and black pepper
First, warm the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice and water (quantity as per type of rice you’re using), bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and cook until the liquid is almost absorbed. Five minutes before total cooking time is up, finish the rice by adding the spinach, dill, lemon zest, juice, and a 1/2 teaspoon salt: stir and cook just until the spinach has wilted. Loosen the grains with a fork then cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Season with pepper and serve.
Typically when I make a green smoothie I include fat and protein (nut butters, coconut milk, avocado, yogurt, nut milks, coconut oil) for health benefits and to fill me up. This week I have been craving fresh and light smoothies made simply from fruits, vegetables, and water. It’s spring break for Vineyard kids so my new found detox smoothie habit could be because we are living outside in the spring air or because I am so crazed chasing two boys around that all I can think of is throw it in the blender. Either way, I’m happy to find myself in this new rhythm and already feel the benefits from it. If you are looking for a light raw breakfast these work great but they also pair nicely with an egg or slice of whole grain toast. The mix of fruits and veggies that I’m using here are often found in juicing recipes but I prefer to blend the ingredients together to retain the fiber and because throwing everything in my blender is easier then assembling the juicer. The trick is to keep the motor running for a good few minutes to really break everything down.
If you like sweet juices and smoothies give the Sweet Green Smoothie a try as the pear flavor takes over. If you like crisp and spicy drinks try the Tart Green Smoothie (I can’t get enough of the grapefruit and celery mix).
Sweet Green Smoothie
1 pear, roughly chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1/4-1/2 a lemon, peeled (depending on how sour you like it)
1 cup water or coconut water
Blend everything together until smooth.
Tart Green Smoothie
3 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
1-inch piece peeled ginger root
1 grapefruit, peeled and roughly chopped
3-inch piece of cucumber
1 cup water or coconut water
Blend everything together until smooth.
PS. These boys are the very best company (even if I am too tired to speak after 7:30 pm). XO
I was trying to think of an April Fools joke to play here but everything felt either mean or just dumb. But, I did just dress the hoard of stuffed animals that live on Dylan’s bed in underpants, swimming goggles, and fake noses. I can’t wait for him to find the surprise after school. Ah, 4-year old boy humor at its finest.
Today I’m sharing a simple but special quinoa cake recipe. I love the use of tahini in the mix here – it is a perfect sticky binder and adds a nutty rich flavor. I think I’ll start throwing a couple of tablespoons of tahini into veggie burger, patty, and fritter mixes from now on.
I hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend. Our eggs are dyed and baskets ready.
Spinach-Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes
from The Family Cooks
makes about 15
1 cup quinoa
1/4 flour of your choice
3 tablespoons tahini, almond butter, or peanut butter
1 tablespoon red or white vinegar
1 package (10-ounces) frozen spinach or kale, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup finely grated sweet potato
1/4 cup finely diced onion
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper or cayenne pepper
Olive oil, for the baking sheet
1. Start the quinoa cooking immediately so it can cook white you are prepping the other ingredients. Combine the quinoa and 3 cups water in a pot and boil it until it is soft, about 20 minutes. Drain well.
2. Transfer the quinoa to your favorite mixing bowl. Add the eggs, flour, tahini, vinegar, spinach, sweet potato, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir, knead, and smoosh all the ingredients together until they are one tight-knit family. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes if you have time.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 F with the rack in the middle. Oil a baking sheet.
4. To shape the cakes, first wet your hands. For each patty, scoop up 3 to 4 tablespoons of the mixture with your hands and form a 1/2-inch-thick patty, firmly patting it so it stays together (loosie-goosies will fall apart). Arrange the patties on the baking sheet.
5. Bake until the cakes are lightly browned and crisp, flipping them over once halfway through the baking time, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with a dipping sauce.
I feel like everywhere I go these days I’m telling somebody about a book they have to pick up right now. I finally bullied Nick into starting The Goldfinch, which I read this summer, so every morning I ask “Soooo what part are you at now?!”. I’m sure he loves that. Heritage came in the mail yesterday and the book’s size alone (it’s probably a foot tall) is impressive and the cover’s colors are crazy in person. It’s so vivid. And finally, the book I’m pushing on every friend at grocery store run ins is Martha Stewart’s One Pot. One Pot is divided into dutch oven, skillet, slow cooker, roasting pan, and stockpot sections – I’m obsessed. This Spinach Pie was the first recipe I tried from the book but I have a dozen corners marked.
PS. Two afternoons a week Gray and I drive to preschool pick-up. School is about 20 minutes from our house and many people wonder why we choose the make the long (in Martha’s Vineyard terms) trek when there are other options closer to home. Despite the fact that we are in love with the school, the drive itself is lovely (I think I blocked out the trips last winter with a newborn). The roads are empty, I usually bring along a coffee, listen to NPR, and gaze out the window. I had to stop last week and snap a few pictures of the goats grazing along the road. I can’t believe fall really looks like this.
From Martha Stewart Living’s One Pot
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
20 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese (8 ounces)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Transfer 2 tablespoons to a bowl. Add onion to skillet; cook, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. Stir in spinach, ricotta, eggs, feta, dill, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
2. Lay 1 sheet phyllo on a work surface, and lightly brush with reserved melted butter. Lay over spinach mixture, folding edges under to fit inside skillet. (Keep extra phyllo covered while you work.) One at a time, brush remaining 3 sheets and add to skillet, rotating and scrunching each sheet slightly so edges are offset and top is ruffled. Transfer skillet to oven, and bake until golden brown and heated through, about 30 minutes.
I’m sure you can agree with me that we are all looking towards spring. I’m convinced the following will happen this spring: Gray will sleep great!, our days will be pure bliss living outdoors, we will win the lottery, our home improvement projects will miraculously do themselves. There will be no tired eyes this spring, no frustrating negotiations with a three year old, no leftover baby belly.
To push us towards the faithful season, I’m cooking up lighter but still wholesome comfort food and these coconut lentils fall perfectly into that category.
Red Lentils with Coconut Milk & Spinach
1 cup red split lentils
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled
1 1/2 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
Heat olive oil in a saucepan, toss in lentils and let toast for 1 minute. After 1 minute, add 2 1/4 cups liquid made up of the coconut milk and completed with water. Add chunk of ginger root and a big sprinkle of salt.
Cover with a lid and simmer over low heat until tender and the liquid is almost absorbed, about 12 minutes. When ready to eat, remove ginger root and stir in spinach leaves to slightly wilt. Taste for salt and enjoy.
Serve as a porridge or a side dish to fish, roast chicken, or roasted vegetables. This is also a great food for babies and toddlers because of its creamy texture and rich nutrition.