spinach chop

Now that I’m back from vacation and back to reality, I am putting myself back on a healthy eating regimen. It must be done – I ate those malasadas with reckless abandon while I was in Hawaii. I’m ready to return to my breakfast smoothies and greens.

I try to make sure to eat at least one serving of leafy greens a day. Lately I’ve been really into raw kale salads. And spinach. I’ve been buying Bloomsdale spinach from the farmers’ market every week and I can’t get enough of it. It’s a little more substantial than regular spinach, and has a bit of a nutty flavor that I really like.

This dish has been in heavy rotation in my kitchen for a couple of months now; I find myself making it at least once a week. This is what Heidi calls spinach chop. It’s wilted spinach, seasoned with garlic and harissa, and topped with hard boiled eggs and crunchy toasted almonds. It’s a great way to have your veggies and is packed with protein. It has become my favorite thing to munch on, especially when I’m eating low-carb. I also really like it for an on-the-go breakfast or lunch. This is what I ate during the flight to Oahu. It was a million times more satisfying than anything I could have ordered on the plane. Pat on the back for planning ahead.

spinach chop

from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

serves 4

1 pound spinach, tough stems removed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon harissa

4 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

scant 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

grated zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Add 1/2-inch water to a pot and bring to a boil. Add the spinach and stir constantly until the spinach collapses entirely, about a minute. Drain spinach and run cold water over it until it’s cooled. Spin the spinach in a salad spinner to get rid of as much water as possible. Or press it in a clean kitchen towel. Finely chop the spinach.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and cook for about a minute; do not let it brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the harissa and spinach. Add eggs, almonds, salt, and lemon zest and stir again gently until well-combined. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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harissa ravioli

I can’t remember the last time I ate broccoli. When I was a teenager, I developed a broccoli allergy and have since stayed far, far away. It actually used to be one of my favorite veggies, but my body says no. I don’t break out in hives or anything, I just feel like I want to die after I eat it, so much so that I avoid anything that resembles broccoli, including broccolini and broccoli rabe.

When I saw Heidi’s recipe for harissa ravioli with brocolli, I began to think twice about my ways. I love harissa. Harissa is a chili paste used commonly in North African cuisine and any excuse to use it is a good one. I wouldn’t dare eat broccoli, but I thought maybe I could handle a little broccolini or broccoli rabe. Why not live a bit dangerously?

I survived the broccolini. As a matter of fact I loved it. I’m not sure what came over me, but I was feeling pretty bold and decided to cook some broccoli rabe. Oh, dear. What a mistake. I was laid up on the couch, dying for almost four hours. After drinking two glasses of 7-up and even resorting to Pepto, I made an executive decision and puked my brains out (sorry, tmi). If you ask me, no vegetable is worth that kind of drama.

But I’m glad I got all of that settled. Broccoli and broccoli rabe remain on the Do Not Eat list. But luckily for me, the broccolini gates have opened and I can throw it in this great pasta dish. The ravioli is really just a blank canvas for all of the layers of flavor here – spicy, lemony harissa oil, salty black olives, crunchy pepitas, tangy feta with really nice texture from toasted pepitas and broccolini. It’s a nice way to incorporate veggies into a meal, and the whole thing comes together in a snap. It’s an ideal weeknight meal.

harissa ravioli

from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson

serves 4

1 clove garlic, smashed

1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons harissa

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

12 ounces fresh or frozen cheese-stuffed ravioli or tortellini

8 ounces broccoli florets or broccolini, trimmed into bite-size pieces 

1/4 cup pepitas, toasted

scant 1/4 cup crumbled feta

5 or 6 black oil-cured olives, pitted and torn into pieces

Bring a large pot of water to boil. In the meantime, sprinkle the smashed garlic with the sea salt and shop into a paste. Transfer it to a small bowl and stir in the lemon juice, harissa, and olive oil. Taste and add more salt if needed. Set aside.

When the water boils, salt it generously, add the ravioli, and boil until they are cooked through, about 1-2 minutes (they will float to the top). About 30 seconds before the ravioli have finished cooking, add the broccoli to the pot, boil for the remaining time, then drain.

Transfer the ravioli and broccoli to a large mixing bowl. Toss with a couple spoonfuls of harrissa oil and most of the pepitas.  Taste and add salt if needed. Turn out onto a serving platter and top with more harissa oil, the remaining pepitas, the feta, and olives.