I’m back! It has been two months, to the day, since Superspark went on hiatus during our big cross-country move from LA to upstate NY. Two months so busy that I had to renounce my 5-day a week exercise addiction. Two months so busy that I went through long spells with barely a moment to check my e-mail. Needless to say, cooking (let alone writing about cooking) has not been at the forefront of my mind.
Culinarily speaking, it’s been a pretty dire couple of months. Going from having no debt and a very low cost of living (thanks to the whole RA gig), to having a mortgage plus payments on two new cars is enough to make one think twice about splurging at the grocery store. I hope this admission won’t cause any readers to permanently flee Superspark, but we not only partook of boxed mac and cheese several times in the last two months, but it was the generic brand. Not even Kraft. Sad, I know.
Now that Dylan and I have started work and are again receiving paychecks, the situation is not quite as dire, nevertheless, we’re trying to pinch our pennies a bit more than we might have in the past. And truth be told, we generally prefer to eat relatively cheap whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies anyway, with cheese being our main luxury food item.
The flagship store of the great upstate NY supermarket chain, Wegman’s, happens to be in our new hometown and so we were pretty excited to raid their bulk grains section, stocking up on favorites like quinoa and lentils. So we were more than a little disappointed to find that most of the bulk goods were candies and that any grain that was a little out of the ordinary could only be found in boxes at higher prices in the chichi organic section.
So it makes me a little sad to look back on this recipe for baked quinoa with spinach and cheese, something I made before the move but never managed to post. Yummy, gooey, and satisfying, the recipe, found here on on the New York Times website, is a slightly healthier, glorified comfort food. You know, for those days when you want something with a little more nutrition and class than say, generic boxed mac and cheese.
Baked quinoa with spinach and cheese (serves 4-6)
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 plump garlic cloves
4 cups cooked quinoa, (1 cup uncooked)
2 large eggs
3 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (3/4 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup)
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Oil a 2-quart gratin or baking dish.
2. Heat a medium frying pan or a wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Wash the spinach and without spinning dry, add to the pan and wilt in the liquid left on the leaves after washing. You may have to do this in 2 batches. As soon as the spinach wilts, remove from the heat and rinse with cold water. Squeeze dry and chop. Set aside.
3. Wipe the pan dry and heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in it over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir with the onion until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in the quinoa, the onion and spinach mixture, the Gruyère, and the sage. Add freshly ground pepper and stir the mixture together. Scrape into the gratin dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the oven and bake until nicely browned on top, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to sit for about 5 minutes, and serve.