Spinach & Cheese Master Mix: my #1 meat free meal base

14 August 2018
I've always enjoyed vegetarian meals. Well, I should say, since my mid-late teens when I was more exposed to different ways of cooking & eating.

I grew up in rural Australia and meals were decidedly not vegetarian. Any vegetables evident were cooked so far beyond 'done' as to not retain much of their original colours. The only vegetarian meal that my mum made growing up was quiche (when my dad was away!).  Unfortunately it wasn't the best rendition being from a 1980s weight watchers cookbook ('shudder').

So, it was a revelation for me to come across fresh tasting, full flavoured meals made from mostly veg.




These days vegetarian and vegetable dominant meals are part of the weekly menu around these parts. I aim to include two vegetarian meals a week and the majority of other meals are generally planned around the veg that we have on hand.

My definite 'go to' in vegetarian cooking is the classic spinach and cheese combo. It's generally a weekly staple. I find it's an easy one to get past the 'meat-free resistant' crowd and also it is so versatile in what it can become. I don't actually have a set recipe but I thought I'd run you through the basic steps and variations I use.



Procure your greens. This can include, but not be limited to, any mix of the following :
  • Spinach
  • Chard/silverbeet
  • Rocket
  • Mustard greens
  • Kale
  • Beetroot leaves
  • Broccoli & Cauliflower leaves
  • Chicory greens
  • Pumpkin leaves
  • Sweet Potato leaves


Chop and saute with butter, oil, salt, pepper & garlic.



Once cool mix in your cheese. This can include, but not be limited to any combination of the following:


  • Ricotta
  • Fetta
  • Haloumi
  • Paneer
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Parmesan/Pecorino
  • Mozzarella
  • Cream Cheese
  • Leftover cheese plate bits & pieces


Add some herbs. I'm a fan of the soft green herbs in this mix but go with what works for you.When I lived in Adelaide soft green herbs grew abundantly (except in summer) and often my mix would be close to a third herbs. So, feel free to get liberal with your herbs. Here's a few of my faves:

  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • Chervil
  • Spring onions
  • Corriander



Once you have your mix you can do many many things. The mix will keep in the fridge for a few days and will freeze well. Perfect to have on hand.

The mix lends itself to so many variations that you can easily have it weekly and not get 'bored'. Depending on your use you may like to stir through some extra liquid via eggs, cream, sour cream or yoghurt.

Spinach & cheese triangles - everything tastes better wrapped in pastry.


Here are a few that we do:

  • Pie - puff, filo or shortcrust pastry based. Sometimes I do a free form tart style pie, other times it's 'top only' and then when I have the inclination I go all out with top and bottom.
  • Triangles or rolls - great encased in puff or filo. These freeze well and when made in 'mini' size they make great canapes
  • Stirred through pasta, gnocchi, rice or cous cous
  • Pasta Bake or lasagne
  • Canneloni - stuff your tubes with the mix then top with some tomato based pasta sauce and grated cheese.
  • Stuff ravioli
  • Quiche, fritatta, strata, omelette or scrambled eggs (depending on energy level & time).
  • Polenta - you can swirl the mix through soft polenta for a bowl of comforting goodness. In hot weather I like to cook a thick polenta, layer half in a dish, add the mix, then top with polenta. Chill until set (usually overnight) and slice to serve. You can also bake this for a warming dish with a little crunch.
  • Pizza topping
  • Sourdough pull apart or scrolls
  • Gozleme or quesadilla
  • On toast with an egg on top - simple and satisfying for any meal.

Are you a fan of the spinach & cheese combo?
Do you have a staple vegetarian meal or meal base mix? I always love some cooking inspiration.

8 comments

  1. Thank you for all the suggestions, I will rethink my spinach and goat cheese omelet.
    I have been vegetarian for 13 years and I am soooo sick of many "vegetarian options" when eating out, being the same old cheese and spinach whatever, usually half stale and pretty tasteless, not to mention mostly pastry. ....yuk
    Vegetarian meals are tasty, healthy and mostly easy to prep and quick.
    Hope you all continue to enjoy your meat free meals.

    Have you tried home made baked beans, delish !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, sometimes it can go so wrong! I especially dislike when they haven't gotten rid of all the moisture from the greens and the pastry ends up soggy...yuk.
      Home made baked beans were another revelation to me over my food education. Previously I'd only had the tin variety and they aren't really anything to write home about. A good reminder for me to get a batch going in the slow cooker. I love to bake an egg in dish of beans for breakfast and I haven't had that for ages!

      Delete
  2. That's a great idea to have a combo ready to go and I'll give this a try ... although not just yet. Having subsisted on cold spanakopita on my recent trip to Greece, I'm over it right now! Mind you, everything does taste better when you make up the mix yourself. Lately I've been boiling to tender a massive bunch of greens each week - whatever weed is being sold at my local market, dandelion, chicory, bitter greens, or else kale varieties if they're on special at the greengrocery - and leaving that in the fridge to quickly sauté a portion with oil, garlic, chilli etc as a green vege for dinner most nights. The last portion went into a corn and cauliflower soup yesterday. I also keep the drained off water in a jug in the fridge when I want a tasty glass of something brown!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I can appreciate being in a 'not right now' phase with certain foods when you have had them a little too often.
      Simply sauteed green are such a tasty addition to many meals. I like the idea of keeping them ready to go in the fridge - anything that gets you one step closer to getting dinner on the table can be so helpful. thanks for sharing the idea.

      Delete
  3. I love this.
    I eat lots of greens and normally I sauté them. I'll add cheese and herbs as you describe.
    Thanks for the wonderful idea, Laura. 😊

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No worries Nil, I hope you enjoy mixing it up a little :)

      Delete
  4. Yum! It's such a great combination and so versatile too. I will often use whatever greens I've got going in the garden, a lot of silverbeet 'cause that grows well here, and put that together with a soft cheese. My favourite is feta because I adore it, ricotta too. Meg:)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to comment. It's so great to hear from people who stop by and to know I'm not just talking to myself!

I review all comments and will not publish spam or comments that don't add to the conversation in a constructive and respectful way.

Search This Blog

2018. Powered by Blogger.

Follow by Email