Tag Archives: Goat Cheese

Spinach Fried Quesadilla with Goat Cheese

29 Jul

I went to a very well-known Mexican restaurant that just opened in Puerto Rico… one that has many locations in cities around the US, but apparently according to the hard-core fan base, it’s not a chain restaurant. Well… back to my experience, the thing was, I was underwhelmed. After all the fanfare of this restaurant opening in PR and having friends telling me such “wonderful” things about it, I was not impressed. My net takeaway was – I can make better Mexican food at home!

This is how these quesadillas came about… Why make quesadillas with only 1 cheese, or only one ingredient for that matter? And newsflash to all the “fancy schmancy” restaurants out there, quesadillas can be made with something other than just chicken.

Inspired by the fried quesadillas of Guadalajara, here is my take on a great vegetarian option for lunch on even dinner…

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SPINACH FRIED QUESADILLA

3 sprouted corn tortillas
1 cup baby fresh spinach – what you can fit in a 1 cup measuring cup
1 cup grated mozzarella or Italian blend cheeses
2 ounces of goat cheese – cream cheese will do in a pinch
Kosher Salt
Freshly grated Black Pepper
Olive Oil

 

You’ll be able to make 2 quesadillas at a time using a large skillet, but you need to make them in staggered steps. I consider 3 quesadillas is a good serving portion for one, but if you think you are better off with 4 quesadillas, just add one more tortilla and adjust the rest of the ingredients. This is more a method than a recipe…

 

  1. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and place one tortilla… flip it over on both sides so there’s some of the olive oil on both sides.
  2. Place some of the shredded cheese on top of the tortilla. Now place a few fresh baby spinach leaves on top of the cheese. You can rip them into smaller pieces with your hands if you’d like. Season the spinach with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Place a few pieces of goat cheese over spinach.
  3. Carefully, fold tortilla in half so you end up with a half moon filled with spinach and cheese. At first it will seem as if there is too much spinach for the small tortilla, but the heat from the skillet will wilt the spinach and it will reduce the bulk considerably.
  4. Flip the tortilla a few times so that it gets golden brown on both sides.

While one quesadilla is getting golden brown to the side of the pan, you can use the remaining space to heat up tortilla #2. And start the process all over again.

Potato Spinach Gratin with Goat Cheese

27 Jan

After I came back from Peru, I decided to make some new potato recipes to celebrate my love for potatoes. Peru boasts to have over 1,000 potato varieties and had the chance to eat some of them. Something we noticed from the potatoes we had in Peru is the Peruvian potatoes seem to be denser and drier than potatoes in our neck of the woods.

We might not have such a wide variety, but we sure have available some tasty spuds – the russet being the most popular or ubiquitous of them all.

Ever since the trip I was brainstorming potato ideas and this one was a particular one I wanted to try… a combination of scalloped potatoes and creamed spinach. Two very rich traditionally considered side dishes, blended together to make one killer vegetarian main entrée.

Spinach Scalloped POtatoes

POTATO SPINACH GRATIN WITH GOAT CHEESE

1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ bag of baby spinach
1 cup heavy cream, divided
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbs butter, to grease baking dish
2 large russet potatoes
4 oz fresh goat cheese
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Butter the inside of a 8-by-6-by-2-inch (6-cup) baking dish.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions soften. Add the fresh baby spinach in batches of about 2 handfuls. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet for about a minute to help the spinach wilt and smother itself. Continue adding spinach in increments and smother it so it wilts. Season with salt and pepper after adding each batch of spinach.
  4. Add ½ cup of heavy cream and stir together with the onion and spinach mixture. Season with grated nutmeg and allow the cream to bubble and reduce to a creamy consistency. This will take about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool off a bit while you work with the potatoes.
  5. Wash the potatoes well and slice using a mandolin… please be careful and use the guard whenever you use a mandolin to slice anything. Place in a large bowl.
  6. Mix together the sliced potatoes with the creamed spinach, the ½ cup left of heavy cream, most of the crumbled goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Transfer the potato/spinach mixture to the buttered baking dish. It can be messy, but go in batches so you can accommodate the potatoes as flat as possible. Press down to smooth the potatoes and pour all the heavy cream left in the bowl. Place the remaining goat cheese crumbled over the top.

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8.  Bake for approximately 90 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly.

9.  Allow to set for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

I make this in my toaster oven. It makes enough for 2 people or for me to eat twice. If you wish to double the recipe, use a 10 x 15 baking dish, same cooking time…

Roasted Pumpkin Orzo with Goat Cheese and Cranberries… or Thanksgiving in a bowl

16 Nov

I am not sure if I’m doing Thanksgiving with the family this year… my family on this side is very thin and they all have their own thing going. I may even accept an invitation to do Thanksgiving in the BVIs.

And it got me thinking of all those people out there that do Thanksgiving by themselves… or just with a partner or a family member. Those people, who like me, have their bulk of the family far away from them. My friend Sue reminded me that not everyone has or likes to cook Thanksgiving for tons of people. Sometimes it’s just you. And that’s also something to be thankful for…

I’ve done and practiced this recipe only for myself… so why adapt it to make for more people?? I’ll share it for just one person, but YOU can feel free to multiply it for as many people in your dinner party. It’s indeed something to indulge and maybe even use up any leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner.

Regardless of how I decide to celebrate Thanksgiving this year… and celebrate I will, I already know I can capture all the flavors and feelings of Thanksgiving in this bowl.

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Roasted Pumpkin Orzo with Goat Cheese and Cranberries

1/3 cup whole grain orzo pasta
2 cups of pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
3 ounces goat cheese, divided
3-4 Sage leaves, fresh or dried
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
¼ cup dried cranberries
  1. In a baking dish place the pieces of pumpkin, crumble or chop the sage leaves and spread all over the pumpkin pieces. Season with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toss well to combine. Add about half the goat cheese in pieces andnestle them in between the pieces of pumpkin. Drizzle an extra olive oil stream over the goat cheese to make sure the cheese browns.
  2. Roast in a 400F oven for about 30 minutes. No need to move or flip anymore. When the time is done, turn off the oven. Leave everything in there to finish cooking while you boil the pasta.

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3.  Boil the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. Orzo cooks very quickly… Drain most of the water, but not all. I do not use a colander for this; I just strain most of the water thru the pot cover. The water left will help create the sauce.

4.  Add the remaining goat cheese to the pasta. Stir well to combine, melt the cheese and create a sauce. Add the roasted pumpkin pieces with the toasted goat cheese. You can save a few pieces to use for garnish if you’d like. Add the dried cranberries. Mix all the components well.

5.  Serve using the reserved pieces of pumpkin and goat cheese and maybe a few extra cranberries too.

It’s quick… and almost needs no tending to. It’s a great pasta dish to enjoy during Thanksgiving or to use up some pumpkins you may still have left from Halloween, huh??

 

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The cranberries might sound funky to you, but they balance out the tanginess and savory aspects of the goat cheese and the sage. I might add some toasted nuts next time to see how that plays up. But for now, it’s delish!!!

Eggplant and Goat Cheese Bake

11 Nov

I will be honest… I learned this recipe from somewhere on the Internet. The thing is… I can’t remember where or who to give the credit to.

I made this recipe for the first time about 3 years ago when I was staying with my sister for the birth of my nephew, who turned 3 recently. I was craving eggplant… and I wanted an easy way to make it without frying it, which you all know is my favorite eggplant preparation. I did it at home in Puerto Rico and also at my sister’s after scoring a huge bag of eggplants at The Boys Farmer’s Market.

I vaguely remembered what I did the initial time I made it. So who knows, maybe I did came up with THIS version after all.

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Eggplant and Goat Cheese Bake

1 medium eggplant, find one as light as possible, peeled and diced
1 pint of grape tomatoes, divided, all cut in half
1 tbs of dried basil, I use freeze dried
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 ounces of goat cheese
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, optional
Brown Rice Fettuccini, I use Tinkyada brand
  1. In an oven-proof dish place all the diced eggplant pieces. Drizzle with olive oil, minced garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss all to combine well.
  2. Add over the eggplant half of the grape tomatoes that you’ve cut in half already. Leave aside the rest of the tomatoes.
  3. Sprinkle the dried basil over the tomatoes. Add the goat cheese inc crumbles over the tomatoes. Drizzle a final stream of olive oil over everything and a last sprinkle of salt and pepper to make sure everything is well seasoned.

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4.  Place in a 375F oven for about 40 minutes. Turn off the oven.

5.  Boil water to make the pasta according to the package directions. I use Brown Rice pasta, but you can use your favorite brand/kind

6.  Drain the pasta, return to the pot and add the eggplant bake. Mix well to combine. Add Parmesan cheese, if using. Add the fresh tomatoes you set aside earlier. This adds an element of freshness that contrasts really nice with the creaminess of the baked eggplant.

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Serve with your favorite salad and baked plantains on the side…  This is so easy to make ahead and just re-heat when you’re boiling the pasta.  Easy dinner without a lot of tending to it.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad

1 Apr

Leslie is a new friend I run with in Boca Ratón… She is a salad lover like me.

I always end up talking food with everyone I meet and this is one of Leslie’s favorite salads to make. I hope you enjoy it as much as Leslie and I enjoy it.

Leslies Salad

SPINACH AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD

Baby Spinach leaves
Goat Cheese crumbles
Spiced Nuts – like almonds or pecans
Dress with Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large salad bowl and dress with Balsamic Vinaigrette. Toss well to combine.

BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a small glass jar and shake well.
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