Spinach and Walnut Pesto

Some of you may already know about my love for pesto. Those of you that know me will also know that not everyone in my life shares this love of pesto. So I keep trying to come up with ways to change up the pesto in hopes that J might become a pesto convert. The good thing is that he is willing to try anything.

While watching Lidia Bastianich the other night, I came across her making some spinach pesto. Looked so good! I decided to give it a whirl.

I decided to wing it as far as a recipe goes. Taste as you go along. Measurements below are estimates.

Spinach and Walnut Pesto
Inspired by Lidia Bastianich


1 bag of washed spinach leaves (standard Trader Joe’s size)
2 cups washed basil leaves (loosely packed)
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of chopped toasted walnuts
Olive Oil
Salt to taste

Place the various leaves in the food processor. Turn it on.

Add the garlic while it’s going.

Add in the walnuts.  Chop Chop

Slowly add in the olive oil. Let it get to the consistence you like.

Taste it a bit. Add some salt. Just a couple of teaspoons.

I like to make a lot and then freeze it for future meals.

Enjoy it over anything you like. We had it with some pasta. Delish!

Palak Paneer

So I had this lovely brick of paneer cheese. I had to make dinner. I would go back to my first curry and make some mutter paneer, but I was out of peas. I did have some spinach sitting in the freezer though. I decided to make some palak paneer. J loves spinach curries, as do I. I knew that this wouldn’t sit well with one kid, but the younger child would be happy with this. You can’t please everyone.

Palak Paneer

1 pound of spinach
prepared paneer, cubed
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. ginger, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp. veg. oil
1 tbsp. butter or ghee
2 tsp. garam masala
1 tbsp. curry powder
2 tsp. cumin
chili powder to taste
salt to taste

Clean the spinach well. Steam the spinach in a pot and squeeze out the liquid.

In a large saute pan, heat the vegetable oil and the butter or ghee.

Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger.  Cook until soft. Mash up the mixture a little.

Add the spices to the mixture.

Add the paneer. Let the paneer cook a bit. Paneer doesn’t melt – so no worries.

Add the spinach. Mix up well. Add the chili powder and the salt to taste.  Add a bit of veggie broth if the gravy is too thick.

Serve over basmati rice.


Mushroom, Spinach, and White Bean Casserole

Recently, I have been on this casserole kick. Don’t know where it came from. I didn’t grow up with casseroles. When I hear the word “casserole,” I think of Paula Deen and her twang as she talks about adding mayonaisse and cream of mushroom soup to cans of green beans. Definitely not my kind of cooking. The other kind of casserole I kind of know are the hotdishes of the tater tot variety that I use to see at various Minnesota potluck dinners. Again, not my taste. Though I do love tater tots. One day I will turn tater tot hotdish in to a healthier me kind of dish.

This morning I cooked up some brown rice, and had a nice vegetable market haul sitting in my fridge. I decided to elevate the casserole and the brown rice in to a mighty tasty dinner. Behold, the healthy and hearty casserole!

Mushroom, Spinach, and White Bean Casserole (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

10 oz. chopped mushrooms (I used a mixture of crimini and white)
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1.5 cups chopped spinach
1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 handfuls of shredded cheese (I used cheddar and monterey jack)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup parmesean cheese
2 tsp. tarragon
2 tsp. thyme
ground black pepper
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

In a large pan saute the mushrooms in some olive oil. Add a bit of salt. Stir.

Add in the onions and garlic. Saute a few minutes. Add in the spinach and the beans. Let some of the liquid evaporate. Add in the rice mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, shredded cheese, and spices. 
Combine the rice mixture and cottage cheese mixture in a large bowl. Stir until well combined.

Pour mixture in to baking dish. I used a 9×13 and a 9×9. Sprinkle with 2/3 of the Parmesan cheese, cover with foil and place in oven for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes more or hot throughout and golden along the edges. Sprinkle some of the chopped tarragon, and the remaining Parmesan.


Chana Saag Aloo

Lunchtime at work can be rough. The combined smells of a hundred or so employees heating up and eating their home cooked meals can be rough. I do have one colleague who tends to have nice smelly lunches. So my dinner idea was stolen from her lunchbox.

After a long week of Passover with no rice, I was craving basmati. What better to go alongside, then a curry? Chana Saag Aloo is a very simple and cheap dish made up of ingredients that I usually have on hand in my pantry and freezer. Extra bonus is that there was plenty left over for lunches the next day.

There are many recipes for this dish; this recipe is based on what I had on hand.

Chana Saag Aloo

2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp ginger, chopped
2 tsp. of curry powder – rough estimate, truth is I shake it all in and guesstimate when it’s enough
1 tsp. turmeric
1 potato, diced
1 can of chickpeas
1 block of frozen spinach
can of diced tomatoes
cup of vegetable broth
cup of half & half or coconut milk

Cook some basmati rice as instructed on the package. The rice cooker works wonders. Start by sautéing the garlic, onion, and ginger in some olive oil. Sauté.
for 5 minutes. Add in your spices and the diced potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. As that starts to soften, add your chickpeas. After 5 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients, stir and simmer on low until ready to eat. Serve over the yummy rice. Enjoy!


About the picture…curries don’t always look pretty and appetizing. They just don’t. They are really yummy though…so please partake in this adventure.

1 2