Tag Archives: ricotta

Polenta Crust Spinach & Ricotta Tart

This tart was an experiment of combining two recipes and it worked a treat! It all came about after dedicating precious hours, during Rafaela’s nap, to clean the pantry out. Prior to this I had found a trail of ants marching their way in and was baffled as to what they were after. A few months earlier, we had the same scenario and I realised they were all over the jar of honey!

So after pulling it apart and reorganising (also a very timely exercise since returning from Costco), I found too many half full bags of pastas, rice, noodles and polenta. I thought it wise to start fresh and finish them all off. In addition to this, the hubby had returned home with a bag of silverbeet earlier in the week. He actually thought it was spinach and for a long time so did I.

So what is the difference? Well sliverbeet is from the chard family, closely linked to beetroot. They have bigger stiffer leaves with white stalks and it needs to be cooked before eaten. This is due to the high level of Oxylic Acid. Spinach on the other hand has small, soft leaves and can be eaten raw in salads. Both are great sources of Iron and Folate. Depending on the recipe it can be pretty interchangeable; therefore a spinach pie or tart can easily use both.

It is just this scenario that inspired me to develop this blog. I would find all these various ingredients and just Google them in one sentence and see what comes up. I also reach for Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cook’s Companion’ to filter an expansive list of ingredients. I found a polenta crust from Donna Hay and a spinach & ricotta pie from Teresa Cutler’s ‘Healthy Chef’ blog. Added some lemon, garlic and parmesan (yep the freezer is pretty similar to the pantry at the moment, too many half full bags of cheese!) and we had a pretty tasty dish for the family.

I really liked the polenta crust, it was a great way to use the grain and it added a cheese like depth of flavour to the dish. I served the tart with a tomato and balsamic vinegar salad. It felt very light and fresh and best of all, Raff gobbled it down!

Polenta Crust Spinach & Ricotta Tart (Serves 12)

Polenta Crust

½ cup (75g) plain flour

1 cup (170g) instant polenta or cornmeal

120g unsalted butter, softened.

½ cup of water

Sea salt

Filling

500g baby spinach or silver beet (Swiss chard) – remove stalks and slice

1 leek sliced

1 garlic clove crushed

450g fresh ricotta

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

½ cup of Parmesan

Handful of fresh basil

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt & Pepper for seasoning

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. To polenta crust, place the flour, polenta, butter, water and salt in the food processor and process until a dough forms. Press the dough into 24cm loose bottom tart pan (or grease a round cake pan). Top the dough with non-stick baking paper and fill with baking weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the paper and weights or beans and bake for another 10 minutes or until crisp.

To make the filling, sauté the leek and garlic in a pan with a splash of olive oil until soft. Add the spinach or silver beet to pan and season with salt & pepper, nutmeg and basil. Cook until wilted, remove for the heat and drain any excess liquid.

Add the ricotta, lemon, parmesan and mix through until combined. Spoon the filling into the pastry lined pie shell and bake for 35-40 minutes in preheated oven at 180 degrees until golden.

The making of the tart - Pie Crust, Finished Tart and Mixing up the Silverbeet

The making of the tart – Pie Crust, Finished Tart and Mixing up the Silverbeet

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Baby Lentil Falafels & Garlic Yoghurt Sauce

Here is a simple recipe from Donna Hay’s latest cook book ‘Fresh & Light’. I have been looking for simple, healthy recipes that are freezer friendly and it has so many easy recipes that use fresh ingredients.

Patties, burgers, cakes, rissoles, meatballs… however you want to define food rolled up and then pan fried or baked is fine by me. All I can say is, these little round morsels of food are making a huge comeback in our household these days. It is the ultimate odds and ends recipe, using up odd vegetables and the staple mincemeat or that odd can of chickpeas from the pantry. So this is the start of the Palm series. I say palm as I make them all the size of Rafaela’s palm (the recommended portion size) for her and everyone really. So watch this space, over the coming weeks I will be focusing on all things…. Round!

Lentils are a great addition to your little bubba choo’s diet; High in protein, so great for Vegetarians. They also tend to take on the flavours that they are cooked with, Making them very versatile. You might want to start with Red lentils, they are slightly lower in fibre so they don’t produce as much gas as brown and green ones. They also cook to mushier consistency. Some suggestions for Lentil include; cook them in a homemade broth, mash them with vegetables, Use them as a thickener or throw them into a soup or casserole. They would require 20min of cooking. Always thoroughly rinse lentils as they are prone to debris.  This recipe calls for a can of brown lentils. These are readily available as all supermarkets. You can also get organic varieties, which I have used below.

These little Falafels are very tasty and are not deep fried. Like most falafels, they are best served with a sauce. So I’ve included the one from the original recipe. Rafaela gobbled these down, while smearing the yoghurt sauce all over her face. They freeze really well and are a great meal or snack option. These are perfect for the whole family. I found them a great finger food for parties.

Lentil Falafels (makes 12)

1 x 400g can brown organic lentils, drained and rinsed.

1 cup (70g) fresh breadcrumbs

100g Ricotta

1 egg

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ coriander leaves

1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon rind

Sea salt and black pepper

Sunflower oil or macadamia nut oil for brushing

Garlic Yoghurt Sauce

1 cup thick plain yoghurt

2 garlic cloves crushed

2 tablespoons of Tahini paste

2 table spoons of lemon juice

2 table spoons of chopped chives

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees (450F). To make the garlic yoghurt sauce, combine the yoghurt, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and chives. Set aside.

Place the lentils, breadcrumbs ricotta, egg, cumin, coriander, lemon, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is just combined. Shape 2 tablespoonful’s of the mixture into small patties and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper.  Brush the patties lightly with oil and bake for 10 minutes each side or until crisp.

Serve with Garlic Sauce. For infants try serving with couscous and vegetables. For older kids & adults, try serving with salad and pita bread.Image

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Spinach & Ricotta Baby Cannelloni

Well it feels like it has been a while between drinks (err Posts). We are into the full swing of the juggling act that is working and parenting. Rafaela seems to be thriving in day care, drinking from a cup all on her own and climbing like a little monkey. The drop off is getting easier, tears are fading and is now replaced by a disappointing look. We have progress!

More and more Rafaela is enjoying different foods; she is at the age where the list of foods she can’t eat is depleting rapidly. I started making Cannelloni after my mother-in-law had a bumper crop of spinach. It was spinach and ricotta bonanza in our household for a few weeks. We tried the Greek Spanakopita pie as well as spinach and ricotta gnocchi but the most appropriate for Rafaela to enjoy and the most successful (the gnocchi was pretty tricky) was the cannelloni. It is the perfect family dinner for a house obsessed with spaghetti and in desperate need of a pasta shake up! This is a variation of a classic Donna Hay recipe. It was really about omitting and substituting certain ingredients to make an infant friendly batch. Spinach is a great source of Calcium, Iron & Vitamin A. It is recommended to start babies on Spinach after 8 months as they can contain nitrates and are an oxalate food and should be eaten in moderation. Below is a baby friendly spinach & ricotta cannelloni recipe. I would keep aside a portion of the mixture for Rafaela and the rest for the adults. It is a great dish to freeze for those now so often moments we need a quick tasty meal and lunch the next day!

Baby Basic Tomato Sauce

1 x 400g can of Organic diced tomatoes

1 small onion finely diced

1 garlic clove crushed

Sprinkle of nutmeg

Splash of olive oil

Handful of fresh basil leaves

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Then sauté onion and garlic till tender. Add the diced tomato and ¼ cup of water (I usually wash the remainder of the tomato out with this water).

Add the fresh basil and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until thick and lumpy.

Cannelloni

1 x Baby Basic Tomato Sauce

2 x packet of lasagne sheets (contains 8 sheets) halved lengthways

½ cup of finely grated parmesan cheese

Filling

2 bunches or 500g of English Spinach, trimmed.

750g of fresh ricotta (I find fresh from the deli works better than the containers. It tends to contain less moisture)

1 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon of chopped dill

½ cup of fresh breadcrumbs

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.  To make the filling, blanch the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water for 5 seconds, then drain. Squeeze out any excess moisture, and chop.

Combine the spinach, ricotta and parmesan, herbs and bread crumbs. Grease a 20cm x 30cm ovenproof dish. Spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the base of the dish. Lay a lasagne sheet on a flat surface, spoon on some ricotta filling and roll up. Place into the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining filling and sheets. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the cannelloni, sprinkle with the extra parmesan and bake for 25-30min or until soft and heated through.

Now this recipe makes a heap of Cannelloni. If you save 1/3 of the filling for your bubba choo you will make approximately 18-20 cannelloni.

Suggestions: I have also included some cooked pumpkin into the mixture. It adds a nice sweetness to the dish and it helps get Rafaela’s Veggie content up! Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

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