If you've been following my blog since the beginning, I am fairly certain you know by now that Chris and I are artichoke nerds (to put it as politely as I can). Last year, she and I even booked our vacation to California to coincide with the 54th Annual Castroville Artichoke Festival. This was technically an accident. An amazing and subconscious fluke of planning, and itwas a blast, by the by. See the photo below. And if you'd like to read about that real good time just click here to go to my very choke-tastic festival recap
Stopping to smell the flowers! Yes, artichokes are flowers! Smells liiiiike dinner!
And I'm not just bringing this up for no reason. Nope! March 16th is actually National Artichoke Day! Woo, exciting! I tried finding some history about how this celebration came to be, but I have yet to find something conclusive. I suspect that it might have something to do with the theory that artichokes prevent hangovers! That's right, according to our Ocean Mist tour guide, eating artichokes before your night of frivolity may help prevent you developing hangover symptoms. And it could be this folk remedy National Artichoke Day takes place on March 16th. Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's something about the levels and types of antioxidants they contain which helps to clean and maintain your liver. Feel free to experiment. After all, artichokes are a green food, so it goes with the holiday anyway, right?
On that note, I have to admit, I would not love artichokes as much as I do if it weren't for Chris. Before pairing up, my only experience with them was as marinated hearts. Don't get me wrong, though, because artichokes are awesome this way. But they are a completely different experience when brought home fresh, boiled or steamed to delicate perfection, and eaten apart leaf by leaf until only the heart remains.
Sounds intense, right? Well, it is! And I think that's part of the reason why I don't know many people who go through the effort of making them the traditional way- from thistle to pot to plate. But I'm here to tell you that you should try it, especially if you love artichokes already. So here's a step by step guide on how to do it.
- Pick out your artichokes. Try to get ones with as little discoloration as possible. In Texas, we sometimes have a good imported crop and they are mostly green. Some purple is all right. Also try to pick those that are closed more tightly than the others; the more open the leaves are the less fluid the artichoke has retained. Chris notes that if you rub two of them together and they squeak, they're fresher than ones that don't.
- When ready to cook, cut a half inch or so off of the stem. Don't remove the stem entirely as there will be delectable soft meat inside. Cut 1-2 inches off the artichoke top using a large knife. Then take a pair of kitchen scissors and trim the leaves, removing the points on the ends. Put the artichokes in a large pot with water, a splash of lemon juice, and some dried green herbs like oregano, marjoram, thyme, or basil. You can use a small amount of water and position the artichokes upright so they are mostly steamed or you can submerge them to boil. I prefer boiling them. Either way, attempt to cook them with the stem side down.
- Allow the chokes to boil or steam for 35 minutes to 45 minutes, possibly longer. According to Chris, if you can pull a leaf off easily, they're ready to eat.
- Remove from the water and turn upside down on a towel. Let the water drain for at least five minutes.
- To eat fresh artichokes, remove the leaves one by one, dip in your favorite sauce, place them in your mouth with the inner side down, and scrape against your bottom teeth. The closer you get to the middle, the softer the flesh will become. Sometimes, the closer interior leaves can be eaten entirely! When you get to the heart, you'll find a thistle, which is not edible. Spoon out anything that is fuzzy and looks like a flower (you know, like a thistle) until there is just the smooth flesh from the heart left. Dip the heart in your condiments, too, and enjoy! For the stem, I peel off the outer skin, it is stringy, and eat the core.
We ate these artichokes. And they were GREAT.
You may notice a strange sensation in your cheeks and on the back of your tongue, especially after finishing the heart. Artichokes contain a chemical called cynarin that makes everything seem sweeter. You'll feel if back there, doing its thing!
You'll notice that I recommend dipping each leaf in your favorite sauce. Well, to give you an idea of what to start with, I usually mix olive oil, vinegar, and fresh minced garlic and let it sit while the artichokes are cooking. Meanwhile, Chris often uses a base of Veganaise. You can try salad dressings, flavored vinegar, or even set up a few tasting dishes and rotate between all of your options.
And there you have it. Once you have practice, you'll fly through making them like nobody's business. If you aren't sure about this whole thing, though, here are a few other recipes you can try that use marinated artichoke hearts from a can.
Thanks for reading! Happy National Artichoke Day!
I'm so glad to be back into the swing of blogging regularly. Winter is an exceptionally challenging time for me, here in Texas. First there's the holiday season; I tend to go overboard on things like gift-giving, baking, and frivolity. I also work directly with the public and usually contract an illness around the same time. On top of that, Texas is home to one of the worst winter allergy seasons in the country. Needless to say, I am affected and may continue to feel the adverse affects of "cedar fever" through the end of February.
But I'm trying to stay positive! Even through what appears to be another cold I've gotten this weekend. Maybe some recipe sharing will make me feel better... Here goes!
How I Make Kale
As mentioned in my last "Scrimpy Livin'" post
, one night per week Chris and I will be having "Buddha bowl" night. We call it this because this dish is inspired by a menu item served at one of our favorite restaurants.
| |As mentioned in my previous post, my challenge for the through March 31st is going to be saving as much money as possible. My method? Cutting back on grocery and restaurant spending. For more information, visit the "Scrimpy Livin'" introductory post. The Steeping Room
serves a grain of the day with a type of legume and a green along with a small amount of sweet potato and a protein (either chicken or tofu). It's about $12 for a Buddha bowl, but it tastes so delicious that it's worth every penny! I've been making a version at home for months now. It's not identical, by any means, but it's just as healthy, delicious, and simple. I've experimented with many methods, but I've finally found one I love.
The star of this dish (at least for us) is the kale. I meticulously wash each leaf before removing the stems and chopping it up. Look at that huge bowl of yum! And, by the way, my dog loves nibbling on the kale stems. In fact, I have a video to prove it.
I cook our beans in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours. They come out tasting delicate and natural. For more information on cooking dried beans, visit my Week #1 Recap
And then I bring it all together with a simple, modest grain. This past week was quinoa. This coming Tuesday will be brown rice. Chris goes crazy for Buddha bowl night, which is really fantastic in my opinion. It's quite possibly the healthiest meal of our week. It also happens to be one of the least expensive recipes in my arsenal! And that makes me very, very happy. So, let's get to the recipe.INGREDIENTS
2 large heads of kale, stems removed and then chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, sliced or minced
1-2 small or medium shallots, peeled, washed, and diced
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 of one Rapunzel "Sea Salt & Herb"
vegan bullion cube
1 tablespoon Bragg liquid aminos
Freshly ground salt and pepperDIRECTIONS
Warm the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add your shallots and garlic and saute until lightly browned. Dissolve the bullion in the water and then add to the pot. Add the liquid aminos and then the kale. Add the freshly ground salt and pepper last, using your best judgement as to how much is good for you. I usually use about four or five cranks each.
Stir your ingredients, cover, and let cook for about three minutes.
Uncover the kale, stir, and let cook until the liquid in the pan is mostly evaporated. This should only take a few minutes more. Test the kale for doneness as well as taste. Serve with your grains and beans!
Makes 4 servings.Note: If you're watching your salt intake, you can use a different vegetable bullion or stock when making this recipe. You can also use less freshly ground salt during preparation and add more to taste when the kale is done cooking.
Here Are More Recipes to Try!
Greetings! This post is coming to you from my brand new (slightly used) PC! I hope you're excited, because I certainly am. Getting this baby means more fun for me, and hopefully more fun for you as well. But enough of that. Let's eat some sweet potatoes!
While it seems like everyone is crazy for pumpkin this year, I've found myself obsessed with sweet potatoes. I've lost count as to how many times I've made them so far this year. They're just so... GOOD. But I like trying to make them differently each time. Isn't that fun? I sure think so.
Tuesday night, I came up with this dish and I was pretty pleased with it. You can probably mix up the ingredients a bit for different flavors. Like, use spinach instead of kale or rice instead of quinoa. That sounds like it has potential to me! Both kale and quinoa are incredibly healthy, though. Kale can sometimes be bitter, but quinoa has a light, nutty flavor that I really enjoy. Let me know what you think if you try it out yourself!
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
2 large carrots, cut into chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced into chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon dried minced garlic
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Freshly ground sea salt
Kale, cooked according to how you like it
1 cup quinoa, boiled in water until tender and drained
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place vegetables in a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Add olive oil and spices and mix until coated. Bake the vegetables for 20 minutes on the bottom rack. Stir and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until cooked through. The dried onion and garlic may become blackened in the process. I actually like this a lot, but if you aren't a fan of the flavor you can rehydrate your herbs in the olive oil prior to combining.
Serve on a bed of quinoa and lightly cooked kale leaves. Typically, I cut my kale into small pieces and kind of boil it in vegetable stock with sauteed garlic. Yum!
The whole meal this recipe made was healthy, filling, and tasty. I hope you enjoy it.
Makes 4 servings.
This post is actually the result of visiting the 6701 Burnet Road Market
. Chris and I love farmer's markets and it has become a goal of mine to visit more of the ones we have in Austin (and there are many!). She and I started going to farmer's markets when we moved here in 2010. Our favorite back then was the one at Lakeline Mall. The distance is a bit much for us, though, and the Burnet Rd. market is right down the street.
When we went a few weeks ago there were four booths of produce, one supplying olive oil and vinegar, and then a flea market with four or five vendors selling vintage items and collectibles. We wandered through them all and made several purchases, including a couple of GIANT sweet potatoes and some kale which we ate for dinner the following night.
I know a lot of people like baking their sweet potatoes, covering them in butter and brown sugar. I prefer them when made savory or at least not sweet. I found a recipe online for roasted sweet potatoes. It had Chris oohing and ahhing all through dinner. I made the kale in my usual way, and I'll give you the recipe for that, too. Even though you use a few more pots and pans than my other super easy recipes, making this combo is still incredibly easy. I made the recipe as a bake last night (which is when I took these pictures) and I think I liked it even more.
This is a really easy recipe that will fill you up and give you the warm, autumn fuzzies. Serve with a protein, like a side of beans or a Field Grain sausage, and if you don't like kale you can serve it with a side of broccoli or a bed of rice. Enjoy!INGREDIENTS
2 medium or large sweet potatoes, cubed
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 small zucchini, cut into half moon shaped slices
1 block of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3 tablespoons vegan butter OR 2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper
1 large bunch of kale
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable stock or broth
Freshly ground salt and pepperDIRECTIONS
To prepare the sweet potatoes, add the cubed pieces to a pot and cover with water so that the cubes are submerged. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Drain and add to a 9x13 inch baking dish. Add your butter, zucchini, sliced garlic, and tofu. These are optional, by the way. If desired, you can make the sweet potatoes by themselves without adding the additional veggies and protein. It's up to you! Crush the rosemary leaves between your fingers as you add the seasoning to the dish. Then add a few cranks of freshly ground salt and pepper. Bake on the bottom rack of a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, stir, and bake for 20 minutes more.
For the kale, trim off the hard, stringy stems and slice the leaves into smaller pieces. Warm the olive oil in a pot and then add the minced garlic. Saute for a few minutes on medium heat, until the garlic begins to turn yellow or yellowish brown. Add the vegetable broth and then the kale and stir. Top with a few cranks of freshly ground salt and pepper. Stir again. Cook until the leaves have wilted. Taste test! Add more salt and pepper if desired. You can also cook off some of the liquid if its still present, or scoop the kale from the pot using a slotted spoon.
Enjoy with a slice of crusty, whole grain bread!
Thanks for reading!
Check out these other easy recipes!
If I had a vegan cooking show (or, you know, YouTube channel) one of the things I would advocate to my viewers would be to learn how to cook without recipes. Not everyone has luck with this. In fact, it's taken me years to be able to go into the kitchen with leftovers or this and that and whip something up. There are still times when the end result isn't fantastic, but I haven't made anything inedible in a long, long time. But I digress.
One of the things I like making differently each time is pasta sauce. I'll get to that sometime later in the month. For now, another great technique Chris and I use regularly is what we call the "tofu bake." Chris started making tofu bakes months ago as part of her weight loss journey. I fondly recollect coming home from work at 10 o'clock many evenings this past summer to leftover combinations of tofu and vegetables that she creatively and lovingly prepared. It makes me sigh with contentment.
It's pretty easy to make a tofu bake, and even if your concoction doesn't end up being perfect, you'll still have a satisfying meal that's healthy and tastes good. Notice in the following recipe I mention using pineapple balsamic vinegar. This is something Chris and I picked up at the 6701 Burnet Road Market
two weekends ago (cost us $17!). It gave the bake a very neat flavor, especially where the tomatoes are concerned. If you can find it, I highly recommend it.
This is how I made tofu bake last week.INGREDIENTS
1 14-ounce package extra firm tofu
1 pound fresh green beans, chopped into bitesize bits
1/2-3/4 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, whole
1 yellow squash, sliced in half and cut into half circles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon pineapple balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Freshly ground saltDIRECTIONS
Drain and press the tofu to remove excess water. I use a Tofu Xpress
gadget for this. It's my favorite kitchen tool ever. Place the veggies and tofu in a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Add the liquids and seasonings and stir to cover. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, stir, and bake for 20 minutes more. Or until your vegetables are fully cooked!
For a generic, experiment-on-your own recipe, try this:
Fill a 9x13 inch casserole dish with chopped fresh vegetables like broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, bite size tomatoes, carrots, parsnips, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet potato, etc. Add your pressed tofu and 2-3 tablespoons of liquid (at least 1 tablespoon of oil, and 1 or 2 of flavored or plain balsamic vinegar or soy sauce), fresh salt and pepper, and 1-2 teaspoons of various seasonings. You can also throw some fresh garlic in there, too, either whole cloves or sliced in half. Bake the same way as mentioned above. Be creative! This formula is super easy and will give you a lot to work with.
If you're like me, you'd love to have a few slices of buttered toast or a hunk of crusty bread to accompany it. A tofu bake is also excellent on top of rice or noodles or served with your favorite meat substitute.
Makes 3-4 servings if served as a side and 1-3 servings if served as an entree.Note: I hope you're enjoying my Vegan Mofo posts! My theme for this year is making veganism "easier" and more easy to make recipes are to come. While I have your attention, I'd like to remind you about my current giveaway. Visit this post to enter to win a "Better-Pizza-Building Kit" from Hodgson Mill Inc. and see what I'm up to for their related competition!
If you like this recipe you may like these, too!
I don't have a garden, but if I did, I imagine I would do exactly this with the miscellaneous veggies I grew from it! This little pizza is inspired by the one I had at the Cosmic Cafe
in Dallas, though it tastes completely different. It's a great light meal and is super easy. It makes approximately four individual pizzas; if you're cooking for two reserve two servings of the veggie mix and save for the next night. If you're serving more than four people, double the recipe. I expect the veggie mix would work great on salads or in wraps, too.
1/4 cup chopped baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped zucchini squash
1/2 of a yellow squash, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise and then sliced
1/4 cup diced or sliced red onion
4 (or more, if you prefer) large basil leaves
A pinch of powdered cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Bragg's liquid aminos
Cremini mushrooms (optional)
1 cup cheddar Daiya
1 cup mozerella Daiya shreds
4 large Ezekiel
If using mushrooms, use on per pizza. Pop off the stems and slice the caps. Marinate in some freshly grated salt and balsamic vinegar while preparing the other veggies.
Mix the two types of cheese together and set aside.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss, ensuring that things get coated evenly. Let sit for 10-15 minutes so the veggies absorb the tomato juices and liquid aminos.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Set two of your tortillas on a large cookie sheet. Top with 1/2 cup of the cheese mix. Then add some of the veggie mix, evenly distributing the various delicious ingredients. Try to avoid getting too much of the liquid at the bottom of the bowl on your pizza (it'll make it soggy). Add the mushrooms, if desired. Press down and into the cheese.
Bake the pizzas for 10 minutes, until the Daiya cheese has melted and the veggies have cooked. We actually had to cook the pizzas one at a time because our cookie sheet wasn't large enough for two. Alternatively, you can bake one pizza per cookie sheet with two sheets in the oven, swapping the sheets between your two racks halfway through.
Mmm, summer on a plate! I think I'm ready for autumn, now, hee hee!
Makes 4 pizzas.
Maybe now you'd like dessert?
I have a confession to make; I never spend more than two hours on a homemade pasta sauce. Gasp! I've been regaled with stories from friends and family about how grandma used to spend all day making hers, simmering it down on the stove for hours, adding this or that every hour or so in order to make it perfect.
And while I'm sure grandma's sauce was tasty, I still can't bring myself to spend that much time on one dish. Maybe I'm not as old-fashioned as you might think! My mason jar collection and closet full of yarn could argue, but I digress.
Even though I have a pretty standard sauce recipe I rely on I do like mixing the ingredients up now and then. I made this "Summertime Sauce," with basil and green pepper, a few weeks ago. It was really, very tasty and I think you should try it. Excellent for summertime, especially if you have home grown peppers or basil you can use!
2 28-ounce cans plain tomato sauce
1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 shallots, peeled and diced
1-2 ounces (approximately 3 springs) fresh basil, chopped or minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
A pinch of powdered cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
Warm the olive oil in a large pot. Add the diced peppers and shallots and saute until they begin to soften. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 45-90 minutes or until you have reached your desired consistency. Serve over your favorite pasta.
Makes 6-8 servings.
Let me know if you like it!
Would you like to see more? Pick one!
So today was a pretty good day. So was yesterday. I don't get two days off in a row all that much (though it does happen). I started working on a few cake trays/platters that I'm not sure what I'm going to do with, but I'm having fun making them and that's what's important. You may have seen the initial stages picture up on my Instagram
feed. They will both say "Peace, Love, Vegan" on the bottom tier in an inked (tattoo-like) style. Fun stuff!
Last night I attempted to make something called a Buddha Bowl. My inspiration is a dish by the same name made by a favorite restaurant of mine called the Steeping Room
. But the concept isn't new and it has been used by many restaurants and chefs before.
As far as I can deduce, the concept is one meal of three components served in one bowl (typically a grain, vegetable, and sauce). It seems as if the inspiration comes from the meals monks in some Buddhist monasteries often eat. I have one
sources to back this up!
In any case, the Buddha Bowl at the Steeping Room comes with a green, the grain of the day, and baked tofu or chicken (pff!) and your choice of delicious sauce (I highly recommend the peanut). So that is how I decided to make it.
I went with kale, which I have never made at home. Bitter things aren't something I'm fond of, but kale is super good for you and I'm trying to be better about eating more healthily. I have never baked tofu before, either! After some searching on the Internet, this is how I went about making my Buddha Bowl.
Marinated Baked Tofu
This recipe is adapted from the one found on The Kitchn
. It is very salty! If you would like to tone down the sodium, see my notes below.INGREDIENTS
1 14- or 16-ounce package extra firm tofu
1/4 cup soy sauce (or 1/8 for less saltiness)
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or vegetable broth, maybe?)DIRECTIONS
Press your tofu to get the water out of it. Slice into 8 pieces. Mix soy sauce and oil (or broth) in an 8x8 inch pan. Marinate the tofu in the pan. Flip after 15 minutes and marinate for 15 minutes more. Temporarily remove the tofu and drain the excess marinade from the pan. Wipe the outside with a towel if any marinade drips down the side. Return tofu to the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway.
Makes 4 servings of 2 slices each.
I've had good kale and bad kale. Even though I'm great at making most things from scratch, I didn't want to risk this one. True story, when looking for a recipe online, I typed "kale that doesn't suck" into Google and found this one. I adapted this recipe from the one made by Grit & Glimmer
. They are right; it does not suck.INGREDIENTS
1 bunch of kale, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup vegetable stock
Freshly ground salt and pepperDIRECTIONS
Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat and add the garlic. Cook until it begins to yellow. Add the broth and kale. Crank your salt and pepper grinders over the mixture a few times and stir. Let cook for about ten minutes and test for flavor and texture. The kale will turn bright green and shiny when cooked thoroughly. Add more salt and pepper to your taste. Let the kale cook on low to medium heat until the liquid at the bottom of the pan has evaporated. It shouldn't take too long!
Makes 3-4 servings.
Assembly and Conclusion
Serve with a side of white, brown, or medley rice. Last night we had a wild and brown rice medley. Just cook it according to its instructions. Red rice is great, too! Other options include quinoa and soba noodles. Use a deep dish plate or wide mouth bowl. Drizzle with your desired sauce. We got a peanut sauce from the store. It's nowhere near as good as the one at the Steeping Room, but it's still pretty good. Enjoy!
While this meal was a definite success, I think I'll be making more versions of the Buddha Bowl in the future. It's easy, healthy, and the possibilities are nearly endless. If you've made a similar dish, I would love to hear about what you came up with!
Thanks for reading!
There are more recipes to choose from!
Good evening! I'm behind in sharing my recipes so I wanted to give this one to you all tonight, while I'm in the middle of perfecting the manuscript for Summertime Sippers and trying to figure out how to put it on sale.
In March 2010, Chris and I took a trip from Midland (where we lived at the time) to San Antonio. I had never been. We spent a lot of time along the Riverwalk, which is a manmade river that winds itself around the touristy area near the Alamo. Hotels open their in house restaurants to it, and there are many other places to eat and shop on the edge of its greenish waters!
Anyway, we were both just vegetarian back then, eating wherever we wanted so long as they had an option for us. We had dinner at a place called "The Original" Mexican Restaurant and we both ordered dishes called "calabacitas" something-or-others. Our waiter described calbacitas as squash with corn and other veggies. In any case, we ate it as mariachis serenaded us and talked about how we HAD to find out how to make something similar at home.
The recipe we base our usual at-home version on comes from somewhere on the Internet. Chris found it but didn't write down wherefrom and I have tried to seek out a URL to no avail. So, this is how I made it the last time we had some. I apologize for the picture; I was just getting my photo studio set up back then. The lighting leaves something to be desired!
1 small yellow squash, quartered and sliced
2 small zucchini squash, quartered and sliced
1 1/2 cups frozen yellow corn
1 large tomato, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons diced sweet onion
3 tablespoons Earth Balance stick butter
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup Daiya vegan cheddar shreds
6-8 six inch soft tortilla shells (I like whole wheat)
Shredded lettuce, to taste
In a large, nonstick pot, warm water on medium heat. Add butter and let melt. Add remaining ingredients except cheese, lettuce, and tortillas, and let simmer, nicely bubbling, on medium to high heat for about 20 minutes until the water is considerably to totally evaporated. Remove from heat and let stand 2-3 minutes. Mix in cheese and stir until melted.
Spread a couple of spoonfuls of calabacita mix onto one half of a tortilla shell. Add a handful of lettuce and fold closed. Serve with refried beans and tortilla chips. Yum!
Makes 6-8 tacos.
So, if you follow me on Facebook you would have seen that I set up a photo studio on my dining room table last week. Well, I've been taking a lot of pictures over there, but I haven't shared any with you yet. Until now!
Food photography can be challenging if you don't have the right equipment. I'll get into the setup I'm using as I continue to experiment with it. It isn't perfect, but I'm working on a budget and I think most other people are as well. You have to work with what you can get (ie: AFFORD!).
In any case, I made these "quesadillas" a little while ago. You may recall that I got a panini press for Christmas. I hadn't used it in awhile. The whole gluten-free diet thing makes it one of those appliances that doesn't get used much. I wanted to grill up something tasty and after thinking on what to use, I came up with this recipe. I'm calling it "Spinach Sin-Quesadillas" (as in quesadillas minus queso...), otherwise known as "how two people can eat a bag of spinach in one night."
1 6 ounce package fresh baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon chopped black olives
1 green pepper, diced
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup tomato sauce
4-6 6-inch whole wheat tortillas
In a large, non-stick pot, warm 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and diced green pepper and cook for a few minutes, until the pepper begins to soften and the garlic starts to brown. Add all of the remaining ingredients, increase the cooking heat slightly, and cook until the spinach has wilted completely and the water from the vegetables and sauce has reduced almost entirely.
Microwave your tortillas for 45 seconds. Spread a few spoonfuls of the spinach mixture to one half of each tortilla shell. Fold the other half over the spinach mix. Grill on a preheated panini press for 3-5 minutes. Serve with frozen or homemade oven fries. I drizzled lemon juice and olive oil over mine and sprinkled them with paprika and garlic salt before cooking. Yum!
Makes 4-6 tortillas (2-4 servings).