Thursday, June 23, 2005

Rustic Spinach Tart

I had fits on Wednesday evening trying to beat a work deadline, bathe Fat Baby and get him to bed, and still cook a good dinner. Luckily, I had everything on hand to make Rustic Spinach Tart, a recipe I cut out of an old issue of Real Simple magazine. This is the kind of thing I almost always keep ingredients on hand for, and it doesn’t take long to put together. I’ve only made this particular recipe two or three times, and its been a few months since we’ve had it for dinner.

Rustic Spinach Tart
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 5)
  • 1 10-oz box frozen chopped spinach – thawed, drained and squeezed of excess moisture
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper (I used freshly ground black pepper and I probably doubled what it asked for)
  • 2 ready-made piecrusts
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese (the cottage cheese is a little overwhelming in this dish, and The Carnivore hates the stuff – I think next time I will use ricotta instead)
  • 10 to 12 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 12-oz jar roasted red peppers, drained & chopped (I keep forgetting to look for these and so have never used them in this recipe – this time I replaced them with a lot of sliced yellow onion)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  1. Warm the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat (I use a cast iron skillet over low heat on a gas stove).
  2. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant
  3. Add the spinach and saute gently for 2 minutes
  4. Remove from heat and season with salt & pepper
  5. Spoon the spinach mixture evenly over one of the crusts.
  6. Layer the cottage cheese, mushrooms, and peppers (in my case, onions) over the spinach.
  7. Sprinkle with thyme and parmesan.
  8. Brush some of the egg around the border of the crust.
  9. Place the second crust on top (I find the second crust usually falls apart as I do this, so I layer it on top in sections until it looks like a top crust).
  10. Brush the entire top crust with the remaining egg (makes it shiny & crisp when it is done cooking).
  11. Cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
  12. Bake 35 minutes at 400 degrees, until golden.

Oddly, I have read that frozen spinach has a higher nutrient content than fresh spinach, so I tend to use frozen spinach when making dishes that will be cooked. Obviously, I use fresh spinach when making salads. From what I have read over and over now, in many corroborating articles, frozen vegetables tend to be processed so quickly that they don’t have the time raw vegetables spend in transit in which to lose nutrients. My mother and I both recently read Joan Dye Gussow’s book This Organic Life, which really hammered home the details about where supermarket vegetables come from these days. So many fruits and vegetables are trucked in from so far away (in some cases, from continents away) that it would be understandable how much of the nutritive value can be lost over the amount of time they spend in storage.

Next year, I plan to plant more vegetables (Fat Baby willing and the garden being ready, of course) so that I can ensure they are organic and so that I can eat them at the point of their highest nutritional content. Organic vegetables cost so much more at the supermarket that I often have to compromise my values in order to be able to afford to eat well.

Tangent aside, dinner came out nicely, and I served it with leftover Corn Four Ways from Tuesday night.

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