Tag Archives: feta

Yes! BAKED Broccoli, Spinach and Feta Empanadas (using store-bought disks)

24 Feb

Here is the second installment of 2014: The Year of the Empanada. After my first installment, in which I fried up my stuffings in Goya pre-made disks, I was showered with questions about whether they could be baked instead.

I wasn’t sure, but thanks Kathy Blenk for reporting back that she tried it and indeed they could!

How to pinch in those cute folds

How to pinch in those cute folds (photo Marianne Goralski)

So I decided to go for it as well (later in the year I hope to make my own, but one thing at a time) and was very pleased with the results. Continue reading


Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad

2 Aug

I am just back from a speaking engagement in Puerto Rico, where I had the chance to visit with great friends and have some delicious meals! But…you’ll have to wait for that, as it deserves a juicier post than I have time for (secrets of Kendra’s delicious grilled lamb coming soon to this blog!).

Watermelon and Feta go so well together and so well with tomatoes!

However, rather than leave you high and dry, here is a bright new salad to entertain you. It takes minutes to prepare, and — if Dr. Oz is to be believed — the combination of watermelon and a bit of balsamic is a powerful enzyme that will aid in digestion and perhaps weight loss.

So here it is:  a fast and refreshing salad that use seasonal fruits and vegetables at their peak. And it’s pretty gorgeous too!

Serving suggestion: Mexican-style margarita glasses!

Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad


1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp balsamic vinegar

Pinch salt

Grating of pepper


20-30 grape tomatoes, sliced in half (about one Cup)

1 Cup watermelon, cubed to match the size of the tomato halves (seeded if necessary)

1 tsp fresh mint, chopped

½ Cup crumbled feta

In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.

In a larger bowl, place watermelon, tomato, feta and mint. Pour dressing over. Stir in mint. Combine all gently and serve.

Feta, Avocado and Sun-Dried Tomato Snacks — Use ‘Em While Ya Got ‘Em!

30 Jan

I’m in a Use-It-Up frenzy at the moment; bought more fresh food than Leandro and I could consume during a week in which we were unexpectedly invited to dinner at other people’s houses and even if I could afford the waste, I have a really hard time throwing out food.

(For more on the food we throw away  visit Jonathan Bloom at Wasted Food; or the E.P.A. — where you’ll find out that Americans generate 34 million tons of food waste each year; or this NYTimes article from 2008 which says “As it turns out, Americans waste an astounding amount of food — an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption, according to a government study” ).

So, no real recipe today, but a serving suggestion of flavors and textures that worked well in a “scrappy” snack…horrid pun intended.

I took half an avocado left over from the previous day, some slices of feta that needed using up, and some sun-dried tomatoes in oil that have been lurking in my fridge. I just sliced fairly thin, laid them on woven wheat crackers and called it a light lunch.

It was delicious and satisfying and effectively utilized my natural resources! Pretty too, don’tcha think?


Cheesy Chard Pasta

7 Mar

Chard is one of those leafy greens everyone should eat more of. It’s actually as delicious in winter as in summer and provides calcium and all sorts of other nutrients and has a bit more body than spinach (but can be used in much the same ways with a little extra cook time).

My son loves spinach pasta (which appears in an earlier post “My kids loves spinach” https://hotcheapeasy.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/my-kid-loves-spinach/) and never notices the difference when I serve the chard variation. He especially digs in when I use curly, frilly or curvy pasta that he can get his eager litle fingers all over– I am attributing that to a chromosomal enthusiastic male response to visual stimuli that I have been hearing a lot about lately.  That’s hot!

It is also fast and easy and really hearty-comforting.

Chard Pesto for Pasta (serves four)

1 lb. fiore (pinwheel) pasta

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

3-5 cloves garlic, chopped

(1/8 tsp hot red pepper flakes, optional)

1 lb. chard, washed, stems removed and chopped fine*

1 Cup broth or water

Salt and pepper to taste

Several Tbs grated cheese (preferably parmigiano reggiano or gran padano) or crumbled feta or, why not both?

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a generous skillet with a cover. Add garlic and stir around for a minute or until turning golden and fragrant. Add hot red pepper flakes if desired. Add chard and stir to coat. Sauté chard until bright and beginning to wilt, then add water or broth. Bring to a simmer and cover, turning occasionally. The idea is for the chard to really soften, which will take 10-15 minutes. If you run out of cooking liquid, add a ladleful of water from the pasta pot. If I want the chard really fine (to encourage more consumption by my toddler, I will spread the cooked chard on a cutting board and chop some more when it is a bit cool.

 Drain pasta and mix with sauce and a generous amount of grated cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

*Save the stems, chop and use in another recipe; they are delicious as part of a stir-fry or just sautéed with onions to top burgers.

Roasted Eggplant, Feta and Sundried Tomato Sandwich

23 Feb

Roasted eggplant and friends on whole wheat English muffin. Don't worry about the verticality; it smushes down to a reasonable, biteable size.

Take Back the Lunch (a poem)

There are those who enjoy

spending money they don’t have,

to wait with time they don’t have,

for a food order that they don’t really love,

cooked by people who don’t love them,

to choke down

during what remains of their precious lunch hour.

I am not one of those.

Are you?

Yeah your takeaway order may be tasty and juicy, but do you really know what you’re eating?

Yeah, a $6.99 lunch special may seem like a good deal, but does it tell you how special and important you are, the way a home-cooked meal does? Of course not.

So at least once this week, try to make yourself a home-cooked lunch that gives you a nutritional hug (or make enough of it for dinner that you have leftovers the next day).

I make this pretty often in winter; it’s a cross between an antipasto and a sandwich and is pretty cheap! I am admittedly not great at crunching numbers, but if I get a pound of eggplant at $3; a 1/2 lb. of feta at $1.80 (Costco bulk); and 8 sundried tomatoes at Fairway for about $2 – I’ve paid about $7 total (plus a bit for side stuff) and then I make four meals for myself out of it…well you do the numbers and tell me it doesn’t beat the bejesus out of the steak and broccoli lunch special at Asian Kitchen…

So please, please, please…show yourself some love and try this really, really, really easy and delicious sandwich/wrap thing really soon. You can skip the bread if you are watching carbs!

Roasted Eggplant  with Feta and Sundried tomatoes

1 lb eggplant (or two if you want to make extra for the week), wiped clean and sliced into ¼ inch rounds*

2 Tbsp olive oil per pound eggplant

8 oz feta cheese, sliced fairly thin

8-10 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. Drain slightly and slice into thin strips

(optional – if your sundried tomatoes don’t come with seasonings, use a tsp or more of dried herbs – oregano, basil, thyme, or other Mediterranean flavors are best)

Wrap-style bread, pitas or hearty thick toasted bread slices

Preheat oven to 350°. Dip eggplant into (or brush with) olive oil until well-coated. Lay eggplant as flat as possible in oven dishes and bake for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until eggplant is tender (I consider this a craft that is best learned by experience. Fortunately for me, I like my eggplant slightly browned, ‘cause I always seem to cook the hell out of it before it’s truly done. Don’t worry about a bit of overcooking.)

When the eggplant is done, place a layer of rounds on your chosen bread. Top with feta and sundried tomatoes (and herbs, if desired). Roll up, if using a wrap-style bread. Toast for a few minutes in a toaster oven or under the broiler and serve (reheats well with a blast in the office microwave).

*Notes: if you have time, sprinkle the slices with a pinch or two of salt, put in a colander and put a weighted bowl on top to squeeze out extra moisture – it becomes less absorbent that way – 15-30 minutes. This step is not really necessary with really tight-skinned, firm, fresh eggplant).

I do a lot of eggplant at a time and either eat it this way all week, or strip the rounds of peel and stir into hummous or just eat it out of the fridge when I need a snack. Can be chopped and added to red sauce for pasta! You can also substitute other roasted veg.

No Crust, Less Fuss: Broccoli and Feta Quiche

18 Feb


I love eggs, I love broccoli and I love cheese. They are so flexible and useful that they are natural convenience foods and I usually have all of the above in my fridge at any given moment. Like today, when I got a craving for a simple dinner with some charm. Quiche would’ve been perfect, except that the crust is a big pain, and adds more dough than I really want after a long winter of indolence.

 Then I remembered a Vegetarian Times recipe that eliminated the crust. I thought, “Hey! Why didn’t I think of that?” and adapted it to what I had in the house.

Fifteen minutes of prep (and about 40 minutes in the oven) yielded a tasty and light combo of my favorite things. It was cozy out of the oven, but crumbly to cut proper slices. I will have more tomorrow morning for breakfast — quite possibly cold. My son is demonstrating great interest, so we’ll see if we can tempt him into giving it a try, ’cause it has potential to be good breakfast food for eating in the car (heavy sigh). If not, well I have the leftover yolks mixed with a bit of water and stored in fridge for scrambled eggs for his breakfast.

No Crust Broccoli and Feta Quiche

1 lb. broccoli crowns, cut into tiny little trees

½ Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and quartered

2 cloves garlic, peeled

5 oz. feta

2 large eggs

5 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 425°. Grease a 9”x5” baking pan (you will put it in the oven to warm up a few minutes before pouring in the egg mixture). Toss broccoli with oil in a bowl.

Put onions and garlic for a spin in the food processor until they are minced. Then add the feta and process until creamy.  Add eggs and egg whites* and process until smooth. Crack a bit of pepper over it.

Remove warmed pan from oven, add broccoli, then pour egg mixture over, stirring to mix. Cook about 35 minutes (40 if using a glass baking dish) or until the top is light brown and a tester inserted comes out clean.

*To separate whites from yolks, crack the eggs and gently pass the yolk from one half to the other, allowing the whites to drain into the bowl. Save the yolks for another purpose by mixing with water (just a bit) and storing tightly sealed in the fridge overnight.

Feta-ccompli: Feta-Walnut Spread

13 Feb

The whole Super Bowl thing has got me thinking about creative solutions for portable party food that doesn’t bore, travels well without dripping onto your car seat or collapsing en route and isn’t unwieldy if you take public transport. It should look nice – presentation counts for a lot. If you are not sure whether the crowd is primarily vegetarian, a meatless dish can be a very thoughtful additon to a party buffet. And of course, you want it to be simple and easy.

Enter Feta Walnut Spread. I made it in a few minutes with the help of my food processor, ably pulsed by my three year old (DISCLAIMER: My son is a good eater, but please don’t think he’ll eat everything I make or that you see on this blog. He refused to try this spread, even though he participated in the making and really likes feta cheese in other dishes. Can’t win ’em all ).

We took it to a Valentine’s playdate-party for my Single Moms By Choice group this weekend. I can’t say it won everyone over, but I liked it a whole lot with the vegetable sticks I cut up. I think next time I will pair it with toasted pita chips (they won’t compete as much with the flavor of the spread) and I think that the leftovers will make an excellent alternative to mayo on chicken or vegetable sandwiches.

The original inspiration comes from Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook, which I had to buy again after my well-worn original fell prey to a hurricane-related flood in Puerto Rico years ago, and which I was delighted to find still had all the recipes written by hand.

Feta-Walnut Spread

1 Cup chopped walnuts

½ packed Cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup water

Three cloves garlic, peeled and chunked (less or none if you are not a garlic fan)

1 tsp lemon juice

(garnish – hot red pepper flakes, dried oregano, olive oil)

Pulse the walnuts and parsley in a food processor until blended. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the garnish) and puree until smooth. Transfer to serving bowl and cover tightly. Place in fridge to chill. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano and red pepper flakes. Serve with toasted pita chips or as a dip for crudité.

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