Spinach Toasts, the Recipe

I had to hit the ground running today. I had to remember to breathe...and that helped a lot. I had to bring Medha back from a slumber party, put in a few hours of work, drop her off at the Mini Pom Clinic, do grocery, buy beer, go to a tasting party hosted by my lovely neighbor across the street, put the spinach together, get to Medha's mock rehearsal in time and bring her home, and make it to the Oktoberfest next door. And, figure out breakfast and lunch in all of that. I know many people who do much more in a single day but, for me, this is way too much.

If you're wondering why grocery and beer are separate items, well, it is because they are. We were used to buying liquor in grocery stores in Illinois. The local Dominick's (Safeway) in Frankfort had one of the best selection of wines, beers and alcohol. And, it was open 24 hours. Who could ask for more? In my haste to relocate to Colorado, I forgot to research the state's policy on liqour.

While we can buy some beer in the grocery stores in Colorado, it's limited to beer that is very much like making love in a canoe. That is quite lame since Colorado is the beer capital of the USA. You can stop thinking that since we make the most beer, we must have the most drunks, too. Nope! We're only 22nd when it comes to consumption. Statistics link this phenomenon to the large volume generated by the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Fort Collins and the Coors brewery in Golden (yes, there is a place called Golden in Colorado!). Then again there are a gazillion microbreweries in Colorado and the beer simply rocks! Since Fat Tire is our current favorite, that's what we took to the Oktoberfest party.

The party had to move indoors as we were hit by a welcome downpour. My husband was ecstatic as, instead of him and his water bill, nature would take care of our parched lawn. The kids - more than 25 of them - had a blast playing in the rain and came inside only when it got too cold. There was too much food, as always, but the star of the show was the sauerbraten that the hostess had made. I wonder if that can be made with lamb or chicken instead of beef.

My Spinach Toasts were also fairly popular. I based this on a recipe from a book that I am totally in love with, The Healthy Kitchen, Recipes for a Better Body, Life and Spirit by Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley. More about the book in another post. Yes, my friend The Budding Cook, definitely another post!

Spinach Toast

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lb baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 green chillies, slit vertically
  • 1 cup low-fat or fat-free yogurt, hung for as long as it takes to make this appetizer
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tbsp walnuts, toasted and then chopped
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 9-10 slices of whole wheat bread
  1. Entice the large man to part with his handkerchief yet again or use a thin muslin cloth or cheesecloth to hang the yogurt
  2. Preheat the oven to 300F
  3. Boil water in a large pot and add the spinach. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring as needed to ensure that all the spinach wilts.
  4. Drain the spinach in a colander. You can save the water to make vegetable stock or use it to knead the dough for rotis.
  5. Trim the crusts from the bread slices and then cut them twice on the diagonal to make 4 triangular pieces. Save the crusts to make bread crumbs.
  6. Place the triangles in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for about 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.
  7. Heat the oil and sauté the onions, garlic and green chillies until the onions are soft. The onions don't need to be browned. Discard the green chillies.
  8. Press down gently on the spinach leaves, while still in the colander to remove any excess water. But don't squeeze them dry!
  9. Put the spinach leaves and the onion mixture into a bowl.
  10. Add the hung yogurt, mint, chopped walnuts, pepper and salt and toss thoroughly with a fork.
  11. Spread the spinach mixture onto the toasts just before serving. You could garnish this with thin slices or small wedges of apple.

This is a delicious and healthy appetizer; a class apart from the regular high calorie party dips and appetizers.

Notes:
  • The original recipe did not call for green chillies. I added green chillies as I wanted the appetizer to have some punch. You could even slice the green chillies and keep them, instead of discarding them, if you are sure that your guests don't mind that additional kick.
  • The original recipe also called for 1/8th tsp nutmeg, which I skipped. I am not a fan of nutmeg but it's a variation one could try.
  • The original recipe did not call for any salt. I felt it needed some salt so I used it.
  • I did not spread the spinach mixture on the toasts for the Oktoberfest party. Instead I placed the mixture in a bowl in the center of a large platter and arranged the triangular toast pieces around the bowl, rather like a cracker and dip platter. I didn't want the toast to go soggy as the party was going to go on for more than a few hours!


I am sending this to Kalyn for the Two Year Anniversary of Weekend Herb Blogging. Now, go over to Kalyn's Kitchen and congratulate her on the tremendous job she and her partner hosts have done over the past two years!

17 comments:

musical said...

That really sounded like a packed day, Manisha! The addition of mirchi sure made them even tastier. This is due for tomorrow's b'fast for me :).

Suganya said...

Making love in a canoe ;)..LOL..

Nupur said...

Gorgeous photo, and the appetizer looks delicious. We love Fat Tire too!

Srivalli said...

well this is worth the recipe Manisha...and the picture looks very inviting...maybe you can talk about your experience you had while eating them...:)..that will make a good third post...hahha...

bindiya said...

That's a lot of stuff packed into one day, the toasts ,sure are healthy and look delicious too.

Padmaja said...

thank god!! u had to breathe in between, ya i can totally understand manisha, days become so busy sometimes and it definitely way too much to handle right eh!!loved your recipe and amazing write up!!

Kalyn said...

The spinach toasts sound just wonderful. What a fabulous photo too, with the slight reflection of the bread. If it makes you feel any better, Utah is just as bad as Colorado when it comes to liquor and beer sales. I'm not a beer drinker, but when I'm having a dinner I always have to go to a special store to buy wine! It will never change here though, so no use worrying about it. Thanks for helping celebrate the two year anniversary!

Rajitha said...

yum..healthy and looks great..it is indeed a surprize that the state ranks only 22nd!! i guess many of them are fed-up seeing it made ;)

Sig said...

Thanks for the warning Manisha... we are also so used to buying beer from grocery stores, it was bit of a shock when we went to Toronto and were told that good beer is only available in speciality stores! But they call those "The Beer Store" , so atleast those were easy to spot :).

bee said...

yeah, we know, the local grocery store in colorado didn't have booze, but there was a booze shop next door. can't buy wine at a grocery store? that's ridiculous.

Manisha said...

After drinking Indian beer, beer made here was very much like Monty Python's analogy!

To add to what Kalyn said, Utah is worse than Colorado. Grocery stores can only sell beer with very low alcohol content. Very few restaurants have a liquor licence (based on a small sample taken in Moab, Utah) and most, if not all, liquor stores are owned by the State. I remember reading that this is because of the cultural and religious background of the state. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

In New Jersey, too, you have to go a liquor store to buy alcohol. I guess we got spoiled by our stay in Illinois!


Rajitha, Coloradans love their beer! My nephew says it has more to do with there being less people in Colorado. It may also have a lot to do with Colorado being very conscious of its figure. :-D

I liked this recipe because there are times when I like to taste my vegetables and herbs for what they are, rather than the spices that overpower their flavors. Let me know what you think of it and what you did different.

evolvingtastes said...

Spinach, garlic, walnuts, yogurt - all great together (I make a similar raita for which I have a recipe on my blog, though that has broccoli, and you can substitute spinach). So I will be trying your recipe whenever I get a chance.

Cynthia said...

Just reading what you did today made me begin to feel exhausted so I can only imagine how rushed you were.

Dhivya Karthik said...

what a combo!

Sharm said...

Good combination of varieties. The spinach toast looks real yummy!!!

Nabeela said...

your pictures are getting astounding by the day Manisha! Love them, just LOVE them!

Manisha said...

In my case, it's all gear! ;-)

OK, so I kid! There are a couple of groups on Flickr that have helped me improve my skills. And, I did buy a Sony DSLR in June. The technology is far superior to my 5 year old 4.1MP Sony. I oscillated between buying a high end P&S and a DSLR but since I was doing much more than capturing 'memories', I figured I would allow myself one expensive hobby.