Friday, February 12, 2010
Spinach vs. Lamb — You Decide
Janet here: Rachel and I decided to go our own ways on this week's entree entry and you'll be able to see in a heartbeat the basic difference between our cooking: mine is vegetarian and hers involves eating a once-cute little baby sheep. Now I never liked lamb even before I pictured it in my head, but the cute fuzzy lamb part made it an easy red meat to give up 30 years ago. (Now the smell of a burger on the grill or bacon cooking, that's a different story! I've been known to pop a piece of bacon in my mouth from time to time. Heaven!)
Anyway, enough of the whole vegetarian vs. carnivore thing. You're going to love this Greek pizza from Mollie Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook because it's just good. I first heard about the Moosewood phenomenon when I became a vegetarian and was searching for a good vegetarian cookbook that wasn't too hippie-dippie. I mean, I was giving up red meat, not good food. Moosewood did the trick; my copies of the Moosewood Cookbook and the Enchanted Broccoli follow-up are ripped, dog-eared, stained and just generally reflective of the use and loving they've received. I've made one flop from these cookbooks in 30 years — zucchini pancakes, but that's another story.
If you've never worked with phyllo dough, Katzen eases you into it with detailed instructions. While a little time consuming, it's not hard, and the buttery, flaky goodness that is the end result is totally worth it. Enjoy!
1/2 pound phyllo pastry leaves (defrosted, all day ideally)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
juice from 1/2 large lemon
1 pound fresh spinach--cleaned, stemmed and chopped (or, if you hate dealing with spinach like I do, one frozen 10-ounce package chopped spinach, defrosted)
black pepper to taste
1 pound grated mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta
2 medium tomatoes, sliced thin
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
For the phyllo: defrost the package, still wrapped, all day. Unwrap just before using, unroll and what you need if your package is not wrapped in 1/2 pound increments. Then rewrap the part you're not using in wax paper and seal in a plastic bag and refrigerate or refreeze until you need it next.
Melt the butter and 1/4 cup oil.
In a large skillet, saute the onions and garlic with salt in 2 tablespoons oil until the onions are clear and soft. Add the herbs, lemon juice and spinach. Cook over high heat until the spinach is cooked and the liquid is evaporated.
In a 13X9 inch backing pan, begin layering the phyllo dough, brush each surface with a generous amount of the melted butter and oil combination. Do this until you've used up all the phyllo layers. Brush the top surface with the remaining butter/oil. It will look like it's too much butter but it's not!
Place the spinach mixture on top of the phyllo dough evenly. Sprinkle on feta and half the mozzarella.
Dredge the tomato slices in the bread crumbs and then arrange them on top of the pizza. Add remaining mozzarella. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees.
Rachel here: The photo for this meal was taken with haste, as neither John nor I were able to muster the patience to take several pictures due to the unbelievably good smells emanating from our plates. Seriously? This recipe is delicious. While meat loaf has always seemed sort of boring to me, this recipe has changed this association forever. I would eat this regularly. Scratch that--I will eat this dish regularly. This stuff is so simple and so satisfying, I'd be a fool not to. Anyway, give it a try and let us know what you do with your meatloaf. This recipe has gotten me thinking that the possibilities just might be endless.
Balsamic-glazed Lamb Meat Loaf
from the February 2010 "Real Simple"
2 slices white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces (I used part of a fresh loaf of rustic country bread instead)
1 lb. ground lamb
1 large egg
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T. fresh thyme leaves (I used lemon thyme)
2 T. balsamic vinegar (I used closer to 3 T.)
2 T. olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
30 oz. canned cannellini beans, rinsed
1 T. fresh lemon juice (I just squeezed half a small lemon)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the bread and 3 T. of water. Add the egg, 2 cloves of the garlic (chopped), half the thyme, 3/4 tspn. salt, 1/2 tspn. fresh cracked pepper. Mash these ingredients and then add the lamb, mixing everything together.
On a foil-lined baking sheet (which I would recommend spraying with cooking oil, though I didn't, because my loaf got a little stuck during cooking), shape the meat mixture into a 6-inch loaf that is about 3 inches thick. Bake, brushing with balsamic vinegar several times during cooking, for 30 to 35 minutes or until a thermometer registers the center at 150 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.
While the meat is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, and remaining garlic and thyme, tossing periodically and cooking until vegetables begin to soften. Add the beans, 1/2 tspn. of salt and 1/4 tspn. of fresh cracked pepper and cook until the beans are heated through. Stir in the lemon juice. Serve with the meatloaf.