Back in December, I made a chicken curry dish for a dinner party. The meal was delicious and made a ton of food. We had dinner for 4 and then enough leftovers for 4 more meals following the party, making 8 meals in total. I normally don’t calculate the number of meals a dish produces, but the meat in this dish was a bit expensive. That 2 1/2 pounds of chicken for the dish? $25. That’s $8.99 per pound for chicken breast. The fact that we got 8 meals out of that meat makes me feel a bit better about the price, but I’m sure some of you are reading and this and thinking I’m an absolute crazy person for paying that much for chicken breast. So let me explain.
We have an amazing butcher in my neighborhood. All the meat comes from small, local farms, and the animals come in whole, meaning they do all the butchering themselves (no massive slaughter houses here). Yes that means higher prices, but with the price comes comfort. I know where my meat came from, and I know it’s been raised without antibiotics or hormones in a humane and sustainable way. I understand that knowing where your meat comes from is not as important to everyone, and I’m not here to tell you that it should be. However you like to buy your meat and groceries is up to you, this is simply what works for me.
While I’m not running off to our local butcher for every meal, I do always buy organic meats, which, yes, are more expensive. That said, we are not eating meat every night of the week, or even every day. Part of this has to do with the fact that I just don’t crave it as much anymore, and part of this has to do with the amount we’re spending on it. I’d rather eat less meat, and spend more on the the type we’re buying. This not only keeps our grocery bill from going through the roof, but also forces us to eat a more plant based diet. I shouldn’t say forced because we love vegetables, but when you take meat out of the picture it motivates us to get creative with vegetarian entrees, and overall, keeps us eating more greens.
Are you tired of me yet?? This one is getting long, so let’s get on to the dish! The whole point of this story was to share with you an amazing and simple vegetarian entrée that I made this week. I made it a few years back with two of my closest girlfriends, and I can’t believe I waited this long to make it again. It’s so delicious yet simple to prepare, and can be served for brunch, lunch, and dinner. You can even make it a day ahead, store in it the fridge, and bake it before your guests arrive. And while puff pastry isn’t the healthiest thing, it contains 2 pounds of spinach. Served alongside some tossed arugula, that’s a lot of greens.
Spinach in Puff Pastry adapted generously from the Barefoot Contessa in Paris
- 3 T extra virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 lbs spinach (raw or frozen)
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 package puff pastry (I use Pepperidge Farm)
- 1 egg for the egg wash
Place the puff pastry in the fridge overnight to defrost. Keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. It should be cold when it goes into the oven.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium size frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat. Add in your shallots and sauté until softened, about 7 minutes. Add in your garlic and sauté for one more minute. If you’re using raw spinach, you want to add it to the pan now, and toss until it’s fully cooked (soft and wilted).
While your shallots are cooking, take a small sauce pan and set to medium low heat. Toast the pine nuts, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
Add the shallot mixture to a large bowl. If you’re using frozen spinach be sure you squeeze out all of the water before adding it to the bowl. Add in all remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Take your first sheet of puff pastry and lay it flat on the baking sheet. Pour the filling in the center of the dough and spread it out slightly, leaving a 1/2 inch boarder. Create an egg wash by beating 1 egg with a tablespoon of water, and brush the wash around the border. I found this recipe makes a lot of filling, so I recommend taking the second sheet of dough and rolling it out a bit to enlarge it before placing it on top. Once on top, crimp the dough with a fork around the edges to seal it. Place three small slits in the top so the steam can escape. Brush the top, not the sides of the dough, with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt and pepper to finish. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately. Dish can also be made a day head, stored in the fridge, and baked the next day.