Tag Archives: spinach

Recipe: Wheat Berry Casserole with Italian Sausage, Spinach, and Mozzarella

22 Aug

It was a busy Saturday recently, filled with lots of garden work (me), garage reorganizing (my husband), and room cleaning/packing (youngest son, prior to departing for college). Dinner time rolled around and so did the realization that there wasn’t much food in the house. I had planned to cook that evening, except that I didn’t actually plan anything (a not uncommon occurrence). And seeing as I was still in my gardening outfit (ie, my old painting pants and shirt–the very ones my husband keeps threatening to burn), with streaks of dirt across my forehead, my enthusiasm for a quick trip to the grocery store was nonexistent.

Surely there was something in the cupboards/refrigerator/freezer/garden that could be pulled together for dinner. The freezer yielded some Italian turkey sausages. The refrigerator revealed lots of baby spinach that needed to be used immediately, mozzarella from a recent pizza night, and the Pecorino Romano cheese that always occupies a special spot. The cupboards contained onions, olive oil, and pasta, and the trusty garlic bowl on the counter was full. And there were (and still are) more tomatoes than I know what to do with in the garden.

I immediately envisioned a zesty penne-sausage dish–only to remember we had had pasta the night before. Shucks. I was willing to forget this fact, but the Greek chorus in our house probably would not. And then I saw the wheat berries I had recently bought, and an idea formed…. [Note: this can easily be made vegetarian by eliminating the turkey sausage and adding more veggies.]

Wheat Berry Casserole with Italian Sausage, Spinach, and Mozzarella

1 lb. fresh baby spinach (about 12 c.)
1 large white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1.25 lb. Italian turkey sausages, removed from their casings
3 c. cooked wheat berries (see Note below)
3/4 c. seeded and diced tomato (about 5-6 small Roma tomatoes)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 c. grated mozzarella
1/2 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Preparation

1. Cook wheat berries as indicated in the Note below; set aside.
2. Heat a skillet over high heat and add the spinach; cook until it has reduced in size and has released most of its liquid; remove from the skillet and drain, pressing as much liquid out as possible. Set aside.
3. In the same skillet, also over high heat, add the olive oil, then the onions. Cook until the onions have softened and are turning golden at the edges. Add the garlic and cook a few more minutes.
4. Add the sausage and cook until no longer pink, breaking up clumps with a spatula. Turn off the heat. Add the reserved spinach and the wheat berries, and mix in well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
6. Layer half the wheat berry/sausage mixture into a 9 x 13 baking pan. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella. Repeat, and sprinkle the Pecorino Romano over the top of the casserole. (See photo below, taken halfway through doing the top layer.)

7. Bake casserole for about 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly golden.

NOTE: Cooking Wheat Berries
Wheat berries triple in volume when cooked. For this recipe, you will need 1 c. uncooked wheat berries. (I double that amount and save the rest of the cooked wheat berries for salads or other recipes later in the week.)


1 c. wheat berries
3 c. water, plus more as needed
1 vegetable or chicken bouillon cube (ideally, without MSG)

Preparation

1. For best flavor, toast the wheat berries over high heat in a dry skillet (no oil), stirring constantly, until some of the berries are beginning to turn golden brown and the berries emit a nice, nutty aroma.

2. While the berries are toasting, bring the 3c. water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add the bouillon cube.
3. When the wheat berries are toasted, pour them into the boiling water and cook over high heat for about 50-60 minutes, adding more water as needed (no need to cover the pot, but keep an eye on it). When done, the berries will be al dente.
4. Drain the berries; there should be about 3 c. cooked berries.

Recipe: Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta

22 Jan

Eggs are a miracle food in many ways, but what I most appreciate about them is that they make for a quick, nutritious meal any time of the day. These scrambled eggs are great for breakfast, brunch,  lunch, and even as an after-school snack for ravenous teenagers. And if I am ever on my own for dinner, these scrambled eggs often make an appearance.

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Feta
Serves 2

4 eggs
pinch salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 c. chopped fresh spinach
1/4 c. crumbled feta

Preparation
1. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork. Add a pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper.
2. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil, add the onions, and cook over high heat until soft and beginning to turn golden at the edges.
3. Reduce heat to medium and layer the spinach on top of the onions. Pour in the eggs, top with the crumbled feta, and gently scramble until set.
4. Serve immediately.

Recipe: Lasagna Roll-Ups with Spinach and Ricotta

8 Dec

Sometimes, you want something fairly simple for dinner, but still want it to have a little flair. This dish meets that need. It is a different take on an old favorite: lasagna. Instead of layering the lasagna, you roll it up. It is fun to make, and a pleasure to eat.

Lasagna Roll-Ups © G. Stansbury

Lasagna Roll-Ups with Spinach and Ricotta
Makes 10-12
[Updated  Dec. 9, 2012]

15 pieces lasagna from a 1-lb. box
16 oz. ricotta cheese
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
1.5 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 c. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. salt
freshly grated pepper to taste

pasta sauce of your preference (at least 24 oz./4 c. — may need more)

Preparation
1. Cook lasagna al dente in large pot of boiling water according to directions on package. Drain, and rinse with cold water to cool.
2. While lasagna is cooking, combine ricotta, garlic, spinach, egg, 1/2 c. mozzarella, Pecorino Romano/Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Mix well.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray, then pour about 2 c. pasta sauce into pan, spreading evenly. Add more sauce as needed to ensure there is a healthy layer of sauce in bottom of pan.
4.  Lay out a lasagna noodle and spoon about 1/3 c. filling in an even layer down the entire noodle (you can also spread the filling on the noodle with very clean fingers). Roll the lasagna noodle up as tightly as possible, and nestle into sauce in pan. Repeat with remaining noodles–you will end up with between 10-12 roll-ups  (the extra noodles are back-ups in case of any breaks or tears). Pour remaining sauce over and in between roll-ups.
5. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Remove aluminum foil and sprinkle remaining 1 c. mozzarella over the roll-ups. Broil until golden, and serve immediately.