Inspired by Saag

I’ve been so in love with exotic spices recently so I’ve been trying my hand at food that’s not traditionally in my family and I’ve got a couple of restaurants that will soon be burning holes in my pockets. Since these aren’t flavors and smells I’ve worked with for years and years, I still need to work on calibrating my nose a little and so I follow recipes and recommendations a little more closely. For this post, I used two articles for guidance: AllRecipes Indian Saag and Whats4Eats Saag.

The focus is on greens. One of my oversights was how few I had on hand. When those recipes call for two pounds, they really mean it. As they cook, they really loose volume and when there are more, it helps promote more of a saucy texture. I had one of those tubs of mixed greens, and I should have gotten 2 or 3, but it was still tasty. Many versions of this recipe also call for a blender, but since I don’t have one, I stuck with chopping.

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I’ve been told that I made a Saag Aloo, because of the potato, but I believe in the spinachy spirit of this dish and will leave it up to y’all to customize it and name it what you wish. This was an experiment of mine and I hope you find inspiration from it like I did those other articles.

 

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No two articles I found had the same spices, or even the same proportions, so I played around based on my tastes and what I had available. Slowly I’ve been splurging on spices, and it’s been nice having a variety on hand.

 

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Saag

 

  • Spinach
  • onion
  • garlic
  • potatoes
  • cream
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbs niter kibbeh (or butter, or oil)
  • 1tbs coriander
  • 2 tbs turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt

 

  1. Par boil the potatoes in a separate pan.
  2. Cook onion in the niter kibbeh, on medium, until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and spices, then saute for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and water. Simmer for about 15-25 minutes. (4 1/2 would be blend it if you got it)
  5. Add chickpeas, potatoes, and cream.
  6. Return to a brief simmer. Finish cooking the potatoes.

Berry Salad

Some might call this a summer salad because the fruit in it are summer fruit. But I feel silly doing that because there are so many summer fruit. But anywhoo.

My mom made a salad similar to this the other day and I felt the need to replicate it last night because it was so good.

What you need is:

Strawberries
Raspberries
(Mom made it with blueberries too, but when I went to the store they were all ugly and unappealing, so no blubes for me)
Equal amounts of walnuts and blue cheese
Spinach
Oil and vinegar

I also cooked some chicken to mix in with it. Nothing special, just skillet-ed, seasoned, and sliced.

Start by washing your fruit and slicing the strawberries.

And be sure to set some aside to make the dressing. I’d say one good-sized strawberry and 3 or 4 raspberries.

I used a food processor because I like my little Philbert, but we didn’t use one at Mom’s. A knife and whisk will do the job just fine.

Mince the berries and scoop them into a cup, then add oil and vinegar and whisk. So easy! Then do the obligatory taste test to make sure everything’s good and tweak if necessary.

Now for the walnuts and blue cheese. Pile them together on your cutting board.

Then chop to combine. That may sound weird, but trust me, it makes sense. As you cut the walnuts, the blue cheese kind of starts to coat them and they become one. Which I like a whole lot better than just lone blue cheese floating dejectedly around in my salad.

Then toss everything together!

Goat Cheese and Spinach Roulade

For this one I wanted to see the difference between my store’s goat cheese and feta. I found out that the goat cheese has a much milder taste and is moister. It also melts better, which is really nice for this dish.

We used:

1.33 lb thinly sliced flank steak
Fresh spinach
A .4 oz container of crumbled goat cheese
Minced garlic
Greek olives
Pepper
Kosher salt
Skewer sticks

To start, I covered the counter top with wax paper. I didn’t have any plates big enough to hold all the meat, so I figured that would be a good way to keep things neat. Next I laid out the meat and cracked on some pepper and spread on the garlic.

Next came the goat cheese. Like I mentioned above, we only used a .4 oz container, and even though it looks sparse, it actually worked out pretty well. But feel free to use more if you like. We also put the olives at the end so that way they’d be in the center of the roulade.

And the spinach we put on liberally, knowing that it would shrink as it wilts in the heat. I’d say two to three handfuls were used on each strip of meat.

Now it’s time to roll. Which isn’t that hard, so don’t worry. But do make sure you have a skewer handy. Just start at one end and roll it up like a sleeping bag.

Now there’s more than one way you can cook this. Baking it would cook it with an even heat, which would make the inside just as done as the outside. We decided to cook it on the skillet. For that, we heated a skillet on high with some olive oil (which made a bunch of smoke) and dropped them in, to sear them.

After a little less than a minute, we flipped them. A minute after that, we turned the heat to medium and covered them, letting them cook for about three more minutes.

They came out super pretty and tasty. The only thing was that the outside layer was a little dry. To fix that, I would recommend either not trying to sear it, searing it but turning down the heat sooner, or skipping/shortening the last step with the lid.

Because the meat is so thin, it takes very little to cook it, and it is therefore easy to over cook. Baking would also be a good option if you like things to be more well done. That way you could get the inside cooked without destroying the outside.

Upgraded Pasta Sauce

Sorry it’s been a while, this is the last week of school and lots of projects and finals are happening, so bear with me, things’ll be picking up very soon.

This is kind of a repeat idea–how to make store bought pasta sauce better–but it’s different ingredients from my last one.

For this one, I used:
A big jar of pasta sauce (or two, you’ll see why later)
A box/bag of spinach
A block of fontina
Tube of sage sausage
Pasta (I used whole wheat penne)

Mine came out really thick and meaty because I used the whole pound of sausage to only one jar of sauce. If you want it to be more like a sauce, I’d recommend using only a half pound of sausage.

And as far as prep goes, all you have to do is cube or shred the cheese and wash the spinach. Super easy!

I started off by wilting some spinach in a ward skillet with some olive oil.

Basically, all you need to do is pour in about a tablespoon of olive oil, heat the skillet at a medium heat, and drop in the spinach. You may have to flip/stir it every once in a while, but it’s very low maintenance.

While that was going, I cooked the sausage and got the pasta boiling on a back burner. The only part about that you have to watch out for is to make sure it’s in a big enough pan to fit the sauce as well. (Unless you want extra dishes, of course.)

When the sausage was done, I added the sauce and spinach–it happened to be done by that time too.

After that, I just stirred to combine. When I felt that the sauce had warmed up enough (a little hotter than eating temperature) I threw in the cheese.

Stir until it melts, and then you’re done. If the pasta hasn’t finished yet, I’d say turn off the heat and put a lid on it–that way it retains heat without losing moisture.