Spanakopita stuffed potatoes (4 servings)

Spanakopita, much like my last name, isn't as difficult to pronounce as it would seem at first glance. Pronounced "span-uh-co-pih-tuh," this flaky Greek pastry is stuffed with cheese, onions, and spinach, a heavenly combination. In this Eating Well remix, the pastry's stuffing gets cozy with the fluffy insides of a crisply-baked potato. Melty feta and creamy potatoes? This girl couldn't get much happier.

I halved the original recipe since I needed only four servings, and I swapped onion powder for the chopped onion to mollify my drama-bent insides. I also didn't reduce the oven temperature for the second round of baking, since I like my feta extra golden, but if your oven runs hot, you might want to. The only drawback of this recipe is budgeting enough time to bake the potatoes, allow them to cool, and then bake them again. When this girl wants potatoes, she wants them NOW!

I like to imagine Tina Belcher pronouncing it "spanakopit-uhhhhhh."

Click here for a printable recipe!

You will need:

  • 2 medium russet potatoes (8-10 oz each), scrubbed
  • 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cups chopped spinach or other greens (thawed and drained thoroughly if frozen)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder (preferably toasted onion powder, if you can find it)
  • 3 Tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper

Steps:

  1. Preheat over to 400°F.
  2. Use a fork to pierce each potato several times. When oven is up to temperature, place the potatoes directly on the center rack and bake until tender. (This could be anywhere from 50-75 minutes. Spuds can be unpredictable.)
  3. While the potatoes bake, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach/greens and garlic to the pan. Cook and stir for a few minutes until the greens cook down and get soft. Add in the oregano and onion powder and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
  4. Once the potatoes can be easily pieced with a knife, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. Keep the oven on.
  5. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle with an oven mitt, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop the insides out into a bowl, leaving a bit of flesh on the skins so they hold their shape. Place the empty skins in a baking dish and set aside for now.
  6. To the bowl of fluffy potato insides, add the ricotta, the feta, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and mash until the potatoes are relatively smooth. (I did fine with a wooden spoon.) Fold in the cooked greens.
  7. Stuff each potato half with a quarter of the spinach-potato-feta filling. (Don't be surprised when your potatoes are stuffed full enough to threaten toppling over!) Return the stuffed potato halves to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the feta is golden brown on top.

Pair these with a crisped-up Field Roast sausage or a side of meatless meatballs and you're good to go!

Moroccan four-bean salad (6-7 servings as a main dish)

Can we just  get a #Sundaysalads trend going already? I'm sure I can't be the only one who preps a make-ahead recipe on Sunday afternoon to eat throughout the week.

Today's offering comes from the May/June issue of Eating Well with a few changes to make this dish even easier. I added a pop of color by throwing in a handful of thawed green beans from the freezer, and I saved myself the hassle of chopping carrots by using shredded carrots from the grocery store's salad bar. I used garlic powder instead of fresh garlic, and rather than chopping up the fresh herbs, I blended them with the oil and lemon juice to make a velvety, viridescent-speckled vinaigrette. (Plus, doing this keeps the mint leaves from turning brown.) I also decreased the oil, as I've found most bean salad recipes too greasy for my taste. Some of the Moroccan-inspired ingredients may seem a bit strange, but they all work together to make an intriguing, exotic flavor combination that will make eaters think, "Oooh, what is that?" And I can imagine that once the flavors have a chance to get to know each other in the fridge overnight, they'll taste even better than they did just after meeting!

Click here for a printable recipe.

You will need:

Salad

  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained thoroughly 
  • 2 15-oz cans beans (I used dark red kidney beans and black eyed peas), rinsed and drained thoroughly 
  • 1 cup chopped green beans (feel free to thaw them from a freezer-aisle bag)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot

Vinaigrette 

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder (If you can find roasted garlic powder, it really pumps up the flavor)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp cumin

Steps:

  1. Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Starting with the parsley and mint leaves, place all vinaigrette ingredients in a wide-mouthed mason jar or the bowl of a food processor. If using a jar, use an immersion blender to blend all ingredients until smooth; otherwise, blend the vinaigrette in a food processor. Once the vinaigrette is smooth, pour it over the salad ingredients and toss gently. Taste to see if more salt is needed. (I needed more because all three cans of beans were sodium-free.) Serve cold or at room temperature.

So to sum up, this recipe doesn't require any heat for cooking, it's super quick to make, it's vegan, and it's gluten-free. I can't think of a better #Sundaysalad or potluck dish!

Skillet gnocchi with kale and white beans (5-6 servings)

Cheesy gooeyness to the rescue!

You know that week where everything goes wrong -- your intestines turn against you for days on end and you turn in your grad work late and you're supposed to go see your parents on the afternoon your downstairs floor floods AGAIN? So you settle into a funk but then you realize there are worse problems in the world and you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself? So you stop being all mopey but then you feel guilty that you were self-pitying in the first place because you grew up Catholic and you have guilt issues? That week? Yeah, it's been that week.

Lucky for us, there are hearty, melty, secretly nutritious dishes like Eating Well's offering that can make you believe everything is right again. And all you need to regain your faith in the world is some plump potato dumplings, a couple handfuls of kale, and some creamy white beans.

You will need:

  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 (roughly) 16-oz package of non-refrigerated gnocchi (plain or flavored)
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups chopped kale, chard, or spinach leaves (any thick stems removed)
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
  • 1 15-oz can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

Steps:

  1. Cook the gnocchi in boiling water according to the package directions. (It'll probably ask you to boil them for about 2 minutes after they start to float.)
  2. As soon as you add the gnocchi to the boiling water, start melting the oil or butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the gnocchi are done, use a slotted spoon to gently transfer them from the boiling water to the hot skillet. Cook them in the oil or butter, stirring often, until they begin to turn light brown and crispy on the outsides. 
  3. Next, sprinkle the onion and garlic powder over the gnocchi, pour the white wine into the bottom of the skillet, and place the greens on top of the gnocchi. Cover the skillet and let everything cook until the greens turn a vivid green and start to wilt (only a minute or two). 
  4. Stir in the tomatoes and beans and cook just long enough to warm them up. Sprinkle the cheeses over top and put the lid on for another minute to let the cheese melt. Serve immediately.

The original recipe tells you to brown the outside of the gnocchi without cooking them first, which is what I did the first two times I made this recipe. Unfortunately, they came out too doughy and didn't reheat well in the microwave the next day. Boiling them first takes a little more time, but it definitely makes the texture better, in my opinion. I think you'll find this dish satisfying and delicious! Plus, it's a great way to sneak in some extra veggies!

Creamy avocado and white bean wrap (4 servings)

Guess what? It's hot. It's not as hot as it was last week, but still, it's hot. And when it's swelteringly uncomfortable, who wants to cook? Summer is a great time for "recipes" that require a little chopping, a little mixing, and not much else. This wrap recipe from Eating Well is a good example. Now admittedly, I made this recipe after a tough gym workout, when my brain was a tad sweat-addled, so I made it harder than it needed to be. I didn't take a picture of the results because there wasn't much room on the counter among all the shredded cabbage bits and spilled vinegar. (Yes, it was one of those mornings.) But for the average alert, coherent home cook, this recipe is simple, quick, and easy.

You will need:

  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • a dash chipotle powder (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage (And please -- make sure your food processor is on the correct setting, or you'll get cabbage confetti all over the place. Trust me.)
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1 15-oz can white beans, rinsed and drained (I used Great Northern)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (the recipe says sharp cheddar, but I used smoked mozzarella and would suggest that)
  • 2 Tbsp minced red onion OR dash of onion powder
  • 4 8 to 10-inch sandwich wraps (I used multi-grain)

Steps:

  1. Whisk vinegar, oil, chipotle powder, and salt in a medium bowl. (If you're using onion powder instead of minced onion, add that in, too.) Add the cabbage and carrot to the bowl and toss to coat.
  2. Add beans and avocado to another bowl and mash to combine. Stir in cheese (and minced onion, if using).
  3. If needed, microwave the wraps for a few seconds to soften them. Spread 1/4 of the bean-avocado mixture across each wrap and top with 1/4 of the cabbage-carrot mixture. Roll up and serve.

The leftover wraps kept surprisingly well in the fridge until the next day!

Sesame-maple roasted tofu (4 servings)

maple+tofu.jpg

Once upon a time, I was scared of tofu. I didn't like the way it... behaved. It had a way of jiggling that made me nervous. And that grayish color and spongy texture? No thanks. Besides, foods that came packaged in brick form made me suspicious.

Luckily, I eventually learned to love tofu after I found out it's versatile and easy to prepare if you know a few tricks. The number one rule with tofu is to drain out as much moisture as you possibly can. My usual method is to cover a plate with four layers of paper towels, slice the brick of tofu into eight uniform rectangles, and place them on the plate. Then I cover the tofu with another four layers of paper towels and another plate, which I then top with something heavy, like the canister of sugar or two big cans of tomatoes. After that, I let it sit, anywhere from an hour to all day in the refrigerator while I'm at work. When the tofu is drained of excess moisture, it soaks up added flavors better, plus it's able to get a gorgeous caramelized crust, as in that luscious photo above. Otherwise, it's gummy, limp, and gag-worthy.

I found this recipe on Eating Well a couple months ago when I was searching for new ways to make tofu. I already knew how to make it with two kinds of noodles, put it in a wrap, and make it resemble orange chicken, but I wanted something different. Roasting the tofu gives it a crispy outside while the inside remains fairly creamy. The sauce complemented the roasted veggies, which were further enhanced by the sesame seeds. It was delicious!

You will need:

  • 14-oz block extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes (you can cut it up after you let it drain, using the method I described above)
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds (white, black, or a combination)

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Toss tofu cubes, onion, canola oil, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet; roast until tofu is lightly golden and the onions are turning brown (about 20 minutes).
  3. Whisk soy sauce, maple syrup, and vinegar in a small dish. Remove the tofu from the oven, and stir to turn the tofu over. Add in the green beans, and drizzle the maple sauce over top; toss to combine. Sprinkle sesame seeds over top the mixture and return to oven. Roast another 10-12 minutes, or until the green beans are tender and the tofu is nice and caramelized.

I sliced my onions into thin half-moons, and they got quite crispy, as you can see in the photo. I really like them that way though! You could easily serve the tofu and veggies with rice, but I just brushed a pita with olive oil and sprinkled onion powder and sesame seeds on top and baked it until it was crispy. Then I sliced it into wedges and served that on the side.