I love to eat seasonally. There is the hippie factor that your produce has less distance to travel when it’s in season, but produce tastes its best when it’s eaten during its intended season. A ripe peach in July immediately reminds me of warm summer days and baseball games. The first bite of butternut squash in the fall conjures images of crisp, falling leaves, a fire in the fire place, and, of course, football. (There may be a sports-related theme here, I’m a sports nut if you didn’t already get that.)
The winter can get a little more tricky when it comes to eating seasonal produce. Lots of broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, chard, chard, and did I say chard? Basically, things that are in season all year but to me have become “winter food”. And I have to get a little bit creative, which is were this recipe comes in.
Jaime Oliver is one of my favorite chefs. He has an easy going style that I try to emulate. His recipes often don’t have exact measurements nor do they have exact cooking times. Cooking isn’t exact, and it doesn’t have to be. Most of the time, if you add a little bit extra of this or that, things are going to turn out just fine. I was given his cookbook, Meals in Minutes, and it contains recipes for full meals: an entrée, a side and dessert and, for they most part, they’re pretty healthy. And they really do only take minutes! This recipe was inspired from his book. My recipe may seem a little complicated but it truly does come together in about 20-30 minutes.
- 1/2 lb spinach
- 3 egg whites (you can use 3 full eggs if you like things a little more egg-y)
- 2/3 c toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 c black lentils (about 1 cup dry lentils)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 6 oz crumbled feta
- 2 oz grated gruyere
- 1 roll whole wheat phyllo dough* (If you can’t fine whole wheat phyllo, non-whole wheat works just fine.)
*Phyllo dough are paper-thin sheets made from unleavened flour. You’ll find it in the freezer section, and when defrosted it is actually quite easy to work with. Just make sure you leave it out to defrost for a few hours before you need to work with it. If it isn’t totally defrosted, you’ll want to throw it against a wall (I may have learned that the hard way). The roll I buy measures 13” x 18”. I cut the large sheets in to to quarters to make sheets that are about 6.5” x 9”.
Preheat the oven to 400˚.
Bring a medium sauté pan to medium heat with a couple glugs of olive oil. When the pan is warm, wilt the spinach for about 10 minutes. When the spinach is good and wilted, tip in to a medium bowl and set aside. While the spinach wilts, toast your pine nuts.
Rinse the black lentils with cool water. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the lentils, cover, reduce the heat to low, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft but still have a slight crunch. Rinse with cool water, and add to the bowl with your wilted spinach.
Add the toasted pine nuts, lemon zest, feta, gruyere, dried oregano and egg whites to the bowl with your spinach and lentils. Mix well. Feta is very salty so I wouldn’t add extra salt here, but you can if you like more salt.
Each mini pies uses 3 thin sheets of phyllo. Place the phyllo sheets over the middle of one well of your 12 cup muffin pan. Gently press the phyllo down in to the well, but you don’t need to be exact as the filling will press the phyllo in to place. Add enough spinach, lentil & feta mixture to fill to the top of the well. Fold the corners of the phyllo dough over the filling. You really can fold the phyllo however you’d like, all that matters is the filling is covered. Once all 12 mini pies are assembled, brush the top with olive oil. Cook in your 400˚ oven for 20 minutes, or until the tops of the mini pies are golden brown.
I paired this meal with a salad of beets, carrots and arugula with an orange-miso dressing. I was really excited how it turned out, so I will post the recipe later on today.