We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there.
Today: Break all of the rules of weeknight cooking with a few simple shortcuts.
Here are two (fairly obvious) cardinal rules of weeknight cooking:
1. Do not make phyllo dough.
2. Do not make ice cream.
Tonight, break all of the rules with the help of a few simple shorcuts. Instead of laboring over a complicated, finicky dough, sprinkle a simple batter over your spanakopita filling, casserole-style. And don't bother pulling down your ice cream maker from the highest shelf in your closet when it's time to make dessert. With the addition of a handful of buttery candied pecans, store-bought ice cream can taste just as good as a from-scratch version.
1 1/2 sticks butter
Two 1-pound bags fresh spinach (not baby)
1 small yellow onion
1 bunch scallions
1 handful fresh parsley
1/2 pound feta cheese
A splash of bourbon
You probably have garlic, salt, pepper, flour, baking powder, vegetable oil, eggs, and sugar in your kitchen. If not, add those to the list, too.
1. Melt the butter in a small pot and set aside. Chop, wash, and dry the spinach.
2. Chop the onion, scallions, parsley, and 4 to 8 cloves of garlic. Add all of this to the spinach along with 1 tablespoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper and mix well. Crumble in the feta and toss to combine.
3. Set the spinach mixture aside and make the batter. Mix 3 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of baking powder in a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in 1/4 cup of neutral oil, 1 unbeaten egg, and 2 cups of cold water. Mix it all together until you reach pancake batter consistency.
4. Spread a layer of melted butter in the bottom of a roasting pan, then cover with a thin layer of batter.
5. Beat 4 eggs until they’re light and airy and add them to the spinach mixture. Stir gently, then spoon the spinach mixture into the baking pan and spread evenly. Pour the rest of the batter over the top of the spinach and drizzle the melted butter over the whole dish.
6. Bake at 350° F for 50 minutes to an hour.
7. While the batsaria bakes, make the buttered pecans. Throw enough pecans in your largest skillet to cover the bottom. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they smell nutty and are lightly toasted.
8. Spoon in enough dollops of butter to coat the pecans and pool in the skillet. Let the butter bubble until it begins to brown, then sprinkle over a dusting of sugar. Add a pinch of salt, a splash of bourbon, and stir the whole mass together until it’s evenly combined and you don’t see any dry sugar. When the syrup begins to thicken and bubble, pour the pecans onto a baking sheet to cool.
9. When the batsaria is golden brown, take it out of the oven and cut it into squares. It's dinnertime.
10. After dinner, take the ice cream out of the freezer to soften while you clear the table. When it’s time for dessert, stir in the pecans to taste. Serve the ice cream with a sprinkle of sea salt or a drizzle of caramel sauce, if you wish.
Photos by James Ransom