Hot. Cold. Then hot again. Anyone else getting whiplash from this weather? The calendar says fall, but the thermometer reads summer. To beat the heat, try a leftover roast lamb eggplant spinach salad. You can use leftover lamb from my Greek lamb breast recipe, or just broil a lamb chop.
This salad is a festival of tastes, textures, and colors. You get luscious lamb topped with tender golden-brown eggplant over earthy spinach, refreshing crisp cucumbers, and sweet tomatoes. Then the whole thing is finished with a rich garlicky lemon mayonnaise.
I’ve sauteed the eggplant in a skillet (because I didn’t want to heat up the oven), but you can grill it if you prefer, or bake it in the oven (400 degrees for about 20 minutes). Then just add spinach and your favorite salad ingredients.
I have adapted this from a Silver Palate cookbook recipe which called for pignoli nuts and olives. I had neither, so I filled in with cucumber and tomato. You could also put in mushrooms, sprouts, experiment with different kinds of olives, or top it with toasted nuts. See the “substitutions” section below for more ideas.
You can either make the mayonnaise from scratch (homemade mayonnaise is divine, just remember to use it up quickly), or just dress up some store-bought mayonnaise with a bit of garlic and lemon juice. I like to “freshen” up commercially made mayo with lemon and olive oil whenever I use it. It tastes more like homemade that way.
Have this for a quick dinner, or make it for lunch. I think of it as an entree salad; it works for any time you want something filling without a lot of fussing (or waiting).
A great way to use up leftover lamb or get a hearty meal without a lot of cooking. This works for dinner or for lunch.
1/4 lb. or so leftover roast lamb (or one lamb chop, broiled), cut into cubes
5-6 slices eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1T olive oil
1 1/2 to 2 cups spinach, washed
1/2 beefsteak tomato, cut in wedges (or 4-6 cherry tomatoes)
sliced cucumber (about 1/4 cup)
Lemon Garlic Mayonnaise Dressing
1 small clove garlic, mashed
pinch kosher salt
2 T mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
If using pre-cooked lamb, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. If you are cooking a lamb chop, broil it for 7-8 minutes (turning once) and let cool while you prepare the eggplant.
Spread the eggplant out on a colander or a cutting board and sprinkle with salt. Let stand for 15 minutes and then rinse.
Dry off the eggplant with a paper towel.
Heat the oil in a small skillet and add the eggplant slices. Saute until the eggplant turns golden brown.
Add the spinach, eggplant, and lamb to a medium-size bowl.
Add the cucumber and tomatoes.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine. Taste and correct seasoning and/or add more lemon juice if necessary.
Pour dressing over the salad.
Leftover Roast Lamb Eggplant Spinach Salad Substitutions and Variations
Top with pignoli nuts, chopped almonds, or chopped walnuts
Add 1/4 C feta cheese and some mint
Add some sliced apples
Make some orzo and add that to the salad
Try different veggies like zucchini, bell pepper or squash
In my head, this was Roman spinach. Then I looked and realized that was a completely different recipe (with pine nuts and raisins). I was wrong about the Roman part, but at least sauteed garlic parmesan spinach is really Italian.
The recipe that inspired this called for blanching and baking the spinach and then broiling everything. That was too much bother! I’ve adapted it to make it simpler and easier.
This way, it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to prepare. It will go nicely, I think, with a simple pan fried fish, or grilled fish. Or, serve it with a steak.
Unlike the Roman spinach (which would have required a trip to get pine nuts), this sauteed spinach is made from everyday ingredients you probably already have at home. No special shopping trip needed!
Shakshouka doesn’t roll off the tongue when you try to say it. Maybe it’s a Middle Eastern market? Or a new folk dance? It is Middle Eastern spicy poached eggs, either Tunisian or Israeli (depending who you ask, or which ingredients you use). If you make it with onions and bell peppers, it’s Israeli. On the other hand, if you serve it up with feta or potatoes then it’s Tunisian.
This shakshouka for one recipe is actually two recipes that I mind melded together (one from column A and one from column B) to get what I wanted.
Also, for some reason, I thought it had spinach. So, I washed and chopped 1/4 C of spinach. Only to find out there was no spinach in either recipe. I added it anyway. Why waste perfectly good spinach? Besides it adds extra color and flavor, which I think worked out well.
The real recipe ingredients are poached eggs, tomato, onions, bell peppers, and some cayenne for kick.
I’m calling it lunch here, but it works well as a light dinner too. You can put the whole thing together in only 20 or 25 minutes.
So, easy, and no fussing. The hardest part is making sure you don’t break the egg yolks.
Serve it with lots of crusty bread to sop up the sauce.
I spotted this white bean salad with sun dried tomatoes when I was shopping. It sounded delicious: beans, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, spinach. Healthy and tasty!
The price was a bit of a turn off though: $8.00 a pound?! For beans? Nope. I had dry beans at home, but it was too hot to start cooking them. So, I trotted over to the canned beans section. Instead of $8.00 a pound, I got a whole can of beans for 88 cents (on sale!). Score!
The rest was easy (and no cooking needed on a hot day).
Just soak the sun dried tomatoes, pour the beans into a bowl, roughly chop the spinach, chop some onion, and let it sit for a while to let the flavor develop.
Mmmm bacon….We’re obsessed with it. We have bacon appetizers, bacon cocktails, and even bacon ice cream. And now, meet the bacon spinach tomato aioli sandwich, a slightly different twist on the tried-and-true BLT.
I made this with Trader Joe’s uncured bacon (which is delicious; get the bacon ends if you can and save some money). I tend to use spinach far more than lettuce, because it’s more versatile. You can cook with it, as well as use it in salads. So, I reached for that rather than lettuce.
Then, I added some mini bell peppers. The sweetness and crunch of the peppers makes a nice foil for the salty bacon.
Finally, I decided to ditch the standard mayo in favor of aioli (which is mayo with garlic, some lemon juice, olive oil, and a bit of cayenne pepper).
If you are ambitious, and want to make your own aioli from scratch you can do that. It’s delicious, and freshly made mayonnaise is far tastier than the stuff in the jar.
On the other hand, it doesn’t keep nearly as well, and making (and eating) a whole batch is a bit much for one person. Of course, you can always use the leftover aioli for french fries (like they do in Belgium) or as a dip for crudités.
I like to take the jarred mayonnaise and then add fresh ingredients to brighten the flavor so it tastes a bit more like homemade. That way, there’s no leftovers to worry about.
One of the things I like about cooking is that you can take one recipe or meal and transform it into something else entirely. For example, this vegetarian eggplant sandwich is a variation on the sabich sandwich eaten in Iraq and Israel. First, I made another batch of the Israeli salad recipe from two weeks ago (the original way, with lemon and bell pepper instead of the mint and lime), and then I added pita, fried eggplant, hummus, spinach, and a hard boiled egg.
And voila! A side dish is now a full meal. The spinach isn’t traditional, but I had some handy and I figured it would go well with the other ingredients.
It makes a great lunch (or light dinner), without a lot of fussing. You hard boil the egg, fry the eggplant and onion, and then just stuff everything into the pita. You can even follow local tradition and eat it for breakfast on a weekend morning; it has eggs, it must be breakfast food).
Some versions of this sandwich use Israeli pickles and pickled mango sauce. These are both probably delicious, but I didn’t add them because I hate buying large containers of ingredients only to use a few spoonfuls. If you don’t mind that, or plan to eat a lot of sandwiches, you can find both on Amazon.
Vegetarian sandwich with eggplant, hard boiled egg, hummus, and chopped Israeli salad.
three slices eggplant, cut into strips
pinch or two of kosher salt (to draw out the moisture from the eggplant)
hard boiled egg
2-3T olive oil
2 tsp onion, diced
handful spinach (optional)
2 T persian/israeli salad (cukes, tomatoes, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, optional bell peppers, cut into tiny pieces; the full recipe is here)
2 T hummus
one pocket pita bread
Salt the eggplant and let it sit while you boil the egg.
Fill a small saucepan (preferably enamel or stainless steel) with water and add the egg. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the egg for 12 minutes (right out of the fridge, 10 if it was sitting on the counter for a while).
Remove the egg from the pan with a large slotted spoon and hold it under cold running water (or plunge it into an ice bath). The shell will come off more easily if it's cold.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the eggplant. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5-8 minutes.
Now add the spinach, if using, and cook for one minute until it wilts.
Remove the eggplant mixture from the heat.
Peel the egg and cut it into slices.
Cut open the pita, and add the spinach.
Add eggplant mixture, egg, salad, and hummus in layers.
Substitutions and Variations for Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich
Add the pickles and the mangos
Layer in some tahini sauce
Shred some cabbage and put that between the layers
Include bell pepper (about one mini pepper) in the Israeli salad
It’s too hot to do much cooking, but this Mixed Greens Egg Potato and Chicken Salad doesn’t require too much time standing over the stove. You only have to boil the egg and the potato. You can use leftover chicken if you have it, or grab a rotisserie chicken from the market.
I call it (in my head) Fairway Market salad, because that’s where I got the idea. It’s pretty flexible, but the constants (at least for me), are the chicken, spinach (and/or mixed greens), boiled potato, and hard boiled egg.
Since it was too hot to roast a chicken, I got a rotisserie chicken and used that for my salad.
You can change it to suit your own tastes or whatever you have in the fridge. Substitute tuna instead of chicken, or use all spinach or all romaine instead of the mixed greens. Try cooked corn kernels instead of the potato. The idea is to get a mixture of flavors and colors, rather than stick rigidly to a recipe.
If you want it vegetarian, or don’t have a cooked chicken, you can leave it out. On a cooler day, make an extra chicken thigh and season it with lemon, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. I adapted the salad dressing recipe from Ina Gartner.
Spinach Egg Potato and Chicken Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
A healthy, summery salad, full of veggies. This is flexible, so add different vegetables, nuts, bacon, or cheese to suit your taste (and what's in your fridge).
One to two large handfuls mixed greens and/or spinach leaves (washed thoroughly and patted dry)
One large egg
One small potato
1/4 cucumber, sliced
4-5 grape tomatoes, sliced in half (or one small beefsteak tomato, sliced in wedges)
1-2 slices prosciutto or cooked bacon (optional)
3-4 sugar snap peas (string removed and cut up into chunks)
1/3 C shredded cooked chicken
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp chopped garlic
2 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 T olive oil
Cut the potato into chunks, and add them to a small pan filled with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes.
While the potato is cooking, fill a small enamel pan with water and add the egg. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes (use the longer time if the egg is right out of the fridge). Remove the egg, and rinse it under cold running water to stop the cooking process and make it easier to peel.
When the potato cubes are done, strain them, and rinse under cold water (so you don't have a hot potato in your cold salad).
Now, add the greens, cucumber, tomatoes, bacon or prosciutto, snap peas, and whatever other veggies you like, to a large bowl. Add the chicken.
Mix together the mustard, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Gradually add the olive oil, stirring with a whisk or a fork so that it blends together.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss it.
If you're lazy, you can cook the potato and the egg in the same pan. Remove the egg after 10-12 minutes of simmering. Let the potato cook another 10 minutes. This way, there's only one pan to wash instead of two.
Substitutions and Variations for Mixed Greens Egg Potato and Chicken Salad
Make the dressing with lemon juice instead of vinegar
Add some whole or sliced almonds
Top with grated parmesan or manchego cheese
Cook a couple of slices of bacon and crumble them over the top
I adapted this from a “spinach and egg omelette” recipe in the The Book of Jewish Food. That’s not really accurate. It has eggs and spinach, but I think it’s closer to a frittata than an omelette. So, I’m calling it a spinach and egg frittata.
There are lots of recipes for spinach (the spinach and potato pie looks great too and I’m going to try the spiced spinach and eggs with ginger). I am working on using the “spinach tree” so all those spinach recipes will come in handy!
The nice thing about this frittata is that you can serve it hot or cold. Eat it hot out of the pan, or wrap it up and take it on a picnic.
The spinach, eggs, nutmeg, coriander, and fresh dill add lots of herby and savory flavor. Top it with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
I ate it with a thick slice of buttered fresh rye bread and strawberries for an easy Sunday brunch.
The original recipe called for putting the frittata under the broiler to cook on the other side. However, since we’re only making a single serving, it’s much easier to just flip it over.
Spinach and Egg Frittata for lunch, picnics, or Sunday brunch.
1 handful spinach
2 T canola oil (divided)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 scallion, trimmed and sliced
1 tsp dried coriander
1 spring mint, chopped
1 sprig dill (or a generous pinch of dried)
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 T Greek yogurt
Wash the spinach thoroughly to get out all the grit. Then drain in a colander. Leave the spinach in the bowl, get a paper towel, and push down on the spinach to squeeze out the water and dry the leaves as much as possible.
Heat half the oil in a frying pan and add the spinach. Cover the pot and let the spinach steam for a minute. It should wilt completely and become a sort of formless green mass.
Remove the spinach from the pan with a spoon and let it cool for a minute. Then get another towel and squeeze out any remaining liquid.
When the spinach is cool enough to handle, chop it into pieces.
Add the cooked spinach and the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the eggs. Stir everything to mix it thoroughly.
Wipe dry the pan you used for the spinach. Add the remaining oil to the pan. Pour in the egg mixture, cover, and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the bottom has set.
Remove the lid. Using a wide spatula, carefully flip the frittata over to cook on the other side. Cook for a minute or two.
This recipe for spaghetti with spinach and lemon cream sauce was a bit of an accident. I innocently ordered a bunch of spinach (along with other groceries) from Fresh Direct. I expected, well a standard bunch of spinach. What I got was a “spinach tree.” It’s enormous. It’s so large I had to prop it up against a bottle of seltzer and a plant to take a photo of it.
So, if anyone from Google noticed a spike in searches for ‘spinach recipes’ over the last few days, it was me.
I adapted this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen. She used basil (or arugula), and while I have basil growing in my window, I don’t have arugula.
Besides, there’s that enormous bunch of spinach to use up!
So, I combined the two. A bit of basil, and a handful of spinach, some diluted Greek yogurt instead of the heavy cream (didn’t have the cream and couldn’t leave to get some), and dinner is served!
A great summer pasta dinner with fresh lemon, spinach, and a bit of cream.
one handful spaghetti (about 4 ounces), it should be about the diameter of a quarter
1 lemon (for juice and zest)
1 T extra virgin olive oil, plus a bit more when you serve the pasta
1 T heavy cream*
2 T finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more when you serve the pasta)
Handful of spinach, washed thoroughly, shredded, or chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll them up so they look like a cigar, and then chop them cross-wise)
salt and freshly ground pepper
Boil a pot of water (a dutch oven will work nicely because it's wide enough to hold the pasta). Salt the water and then add the pasta. Cook about 8 minutes until it's al dente.
As you wait for the pasta to cook, zest the lemon (you'll need about 3/4 of a teaspoon of zest). Then, squeeze the lemon to juice it (this works best if it's warm; if you had it in the fridge, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm it up). You'll get about 1-2 tablespoons.
When the pasta is ready, drain it, keeping about 1/3 C of the water.
Take a small saucepan and heat the olive oil, cream, lemon zest, and about half the reserved water. Cook that on high heat for a minute. Put the pasta back in the larger pot, add the lemon zest mixture, and stir until the pasta is coated with it.
Add the parmesan, and half the lemon juice. Stir and toss together thoroughly (I used a spaghetti spoon and a standard fork ) until the sauce is distributed evenly over the pasta.
If you want your pasta "saucier" add more of the cooking water. Taste and add more lemon if you like.
Stir in the basil and the spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Top your pasta with extra olive oil and parmesan cheese and serve.
Substitutions and Variations for Spaghetti with Spinach and Lemon Cream Sauce
If you don’t have heavy cream, melt 1/3 C unsalted butter and add 3/4 C whole milk. This makes about a cup.
Use plain Greek yogurt and thin it out with a little milk. If you do this, add a little hot water to the mixture first, before putting it in the pasta. This will prevent it from curdling.
Use frozen peas instead of spinach (add to the pasta while it’s cooking and save yourself an extra pot to clean; put the peas in for about 3 minutes).
Add some leftover cooked chicken for more protein.
I love the Smitten Kitchen blog (as does a friend who is a professional chef). Deb’s recipes are consistently good. And, her original kitchen was nearly as small as mine. Which just proves you don’t need a lot of space, drawerfuls of gadgets, or an enormous pantry to create delicious food.
Everything is made from real ingredients, and ingredients that are easy to find. I know it really bugs me when some recipe calls for a teaspoon of some exotic ingredient I’ll never use again! One thing about this book is that the format spreads the recipes over more than one page, so it can be a bit hard to follow.
It’s a small thing, but this spoon makes it much easier to toss your spaghetti and coat it with the sauce. It’s also a lot easier to get it out of the pot and into a bowl for serving. And because it’s OXO, it’s comfortable to hold too.
This is one of my favorite tools. It’s just the thing for zesting lemons (and getting only the zest without the bitter pith). Hard cheese can be tough to grate with a box grater, but this produces perfect little curls that practically melt into your pasta. It’s also ideal for grating nutmeg, ginger, or even garlic. Since it’s long and thin, you can just perch it right on top of the bowl while you grate. Note that it’s sharp, so be careful!
More Recipes for One Person with Spinach or Spaghetti
I was so pleased with last week’s spinach and feta salad with strawberries that I decided to try another variation, this time with blueberries. Plus, the spinach and the blueberries at the market looked so fresh that I couldn’t resist buying them.
I changed the dressing from balsamic vinaigrette to a lemony vinaigrette made with olive oil, vinegar, and lemon peel. I topped it all off with a mixture of nuts, raisins, and sunflower seeds.
I bought the nut/seed combination already mixed, you can add some, or all of the ingredients, depending on what you have in your pantry, your personal taste, or whether you feel like going to the store to get anything you haven’t got handy. You definitely don’t have to add all of them!
The resulting blueberry spinach salad with feta cheese is crispy, a little salty (from the nuts), tangy from the lemon, and sweet from the blueberries.
And, it’s even red, white, and blue. It would be great for a Fourth of July picnic or party. Just throw it together ahead of time and add the dressing when it’s ready to serve. Gotta have something healthy in-between all those hot dogs!