Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A great midweek dish

I'm always in search of the next good "one pot meal" recipe to add to my repertoire. One of my cooking goals at this stage in my children's life, is to be able to scoop out a spoonful of a dish I've created from real food, that checks most or all of the right boxes nutritionally for them.

But I love one pot meals for more reasons than that. Usually they can be made a little ahead of time; in fact they are often a little tastier, having sat a while, snuggled together in a pot, blending together their flavors deliciously. Making dinner a little earlier in the day suits my lifestyle; the "down time" in my day is usually after lunch at some point. If I'm lucky, one kid might nap and the other usually will be content with some sort of quiet activity for an hour or so. This is my time to rustle something up for dinner or at the very least prep.

I also love they way you can hide or at the very least disguise foods in a 1 pot meal; foods that might otherwise be given the screwed up face. My children have different palates; historically, one would eat fruit and most vegetables easily, but does not much like meat, nuts, beans and eggs. The other was the exact opposite. Now, thanks to the one pot meal strategy, I've sucessfully introduced a variety of new foods to both
Anyway, I was lacking inspiration for last night's dinner, other than I really wanted a very healthy meal. When dinner challenged, typically I will throw a couple of ingredients into one of my favorite food sites and search. Thank God for the smart phone. Thanks also to Heidi at "101 cookbooks", I found a great starting point.

She basically combined eggs, spinach, rice and cheese and baked. So easy and incredibly versatile for a tasty but healthy dinner. I used it as a springboard, added feta instead of tofu (much as I strive to eat healthy, I just cant get excited about tofu), a few other flavors and it was a big hit with the kids and my husband, for that matter. All had seconds. Nuff said.

Spinach and Rice Gratin (my way)

Serves 4-6


5 cups precooked brown rice
1 16 oz bag of frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed out
8 oz light feta cheese, chopped or crumbled into small pieces
20 olives (your choice, I used kalamata), chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup toasted pinenuts or almonds
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (substitute and good melter)
6 large eggs, beaten
salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C
  2. Grease two 2 quart size (approx) baking dishes or 1 large lasagna dish
  3. Reserve half the cheese and pinenuts
  4. Mix together all the remaining ingredients
  5. Put the mixture in the dishes and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  6. Place the dishes in the center of the oven and bake for 30 mins, until the top is golden.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining pinenuts on top and serve with a green salad or tomato salad.
I have a million thoughts on variation on this but you can start with these
  • precook pancetta or bacon and add
  • chopped sundried tomatoes would be lovely
  • raisins or cranberries or even chopped apricots would give a nice sweetness against the salty feta and olives
  • fresh herbs...parsley, basil or chives would be particularly nice
Go for it!

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