By Megan Wolf
(JTA) — Hanukah is a celebration, a joyful holiday with delicious food and family memories. I remember lighting our menorah as a little girl with my bubbe. Now, raising my daughter, I hope to create special memories with her.
Food is typically at the center of our celebrations and this Hanukkah, I have created a spinach-focused menu for a delicious and festive meal.
Starting with creamy white bean soup, inspired by my mother’s love for soup served in large mugs, this dish sets the tone for a deliciously healthy meal. Warm and satisfying, this dish is topped with jewel-toned sauteed spinach and is pretty enough to serve to company. And its’ easy enough to make on a weeknight.
Most people think about traditional potato latkes on Hanukkah. My Spinach, Broccoli and Scallion Pancakes with Poached Eggs are just as delicious — you can serve without the eggs, if you like.
Growing up, we would enjoy sour cream and applesauce with our potato latkes. Sour cream (or greek yogurt!) would be a perfect pairing for these light, vegetable-filled pancakes. I like mine with hot sauce.
Spinach Salad with Quinoa, Toasted Pistachios and Cranberries is among my favorite recipes from my cookbook “Great Meals with Greens and Grains,” with its interesting textures, bold flavors, and a bright and balanced dressing. It could not be easier to make and is sure to be a hit on your holiday table.
Here are the recipes for these winning dishes.
CREAMY WHITE BEAN SOUP WITH SAUTEED SPINACH
1 head garlic, top quarter sliced off and discarded
1/4 cup olive oil, divided, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium Vidalia onion, sliced
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock, divided
1 dried bay leaf
2 cans (15 ounces each) white beans, rinsed and drained, divided
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
5 ounces baby spinach
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Place the garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Wrap into a pouch and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and golden brown.
In a large stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add 2 1/4 cups of the vegetable stock, the bay leaf and 1 can of the white beans to the onions. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
Once the garlic is roasted, add it to the soup by popping each clove out of its protective paper. In batches, transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, then pour the soup back into the stockpot.
Add the remaining can of white beans, remaining 1/4 cup vegetable stock and the Parmesan to the pureed mixture and heat through, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
In a saute pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, then add the spinach. Cook until completely wilted, about 4 minutes.
To serve, pour equal amounts of the soup into each of 4 bowls and top with the sauteed spinach and an extra drizzle of olive oil.
Tips: Make sure you are constantly scraping the bottom of the stockpot — that’s where so much flavor lives!
Use the best olive oil you can find; it really makes such a difference, especially when used as a garnish.
SPINACH, BROCCOLI AND SCALLION PANCAKES WITH POACHED EGGS
For the pancakes:
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli
4 cups packed baby spinach
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 scallions, thinly sliced, divided
For the eggs:
4 cups water
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven to heat.
To make the pancakes: Steam the broccoli until tender but still crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. While the broccoli cooks, saute the spinach in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet until wilted, about 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and roughly chop.
In a large bowl, scramble the eggs, and then add the baking soda, flour, panko and Parmesan cheese; stir to combine. Add the broccoli, spinach and half the scallions. Mix to combine.
Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and grease with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. With an ice cream scoop, place pancakes evenly on the baking sheet. Gently press the top of each pancake to flatten. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip and bake for another 2 minutes, or until the centers of the pancakes are cooked through.
To make the poached eggs (start with about 8 minutes remaining on the pancakes): Boil the water in a large high-rimmed skillet. Once the water comes to a boil, crack each egg into its own ramekin. Add the white vinegar to the boiling water, reduce the heat to medium-low and drop each egg into the hot water. Cover the skillet and let the eggs cook for 3 minutes.
Remove the pancakes from the oven and serve 2 or 3 to a plate depending on their size. Top each plate with a poached egg and a sprinkle of the remaining scallions. Serve immediately.
Tip: If poaching all four eggs at once feels too daunting, try two at a time. Eggs cook quickly and this won’t greatly delay your meal.
SPINACH SALAD WITH QUINOA, TOASTED PISTACHIOS AND CRANBERRIES
For the lemon vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, pushed through a garlic press or very well minced
1/4 teaspoon salt (or more to your taste)
For the salad:
1/4 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
10 ounces baby spinach
1 medium Anjou pear
1/2 cup dried sweetened
1/2 cup pitted and sliced Cerignola
Salt to taste
To make the lemon vinaigrette: Whisk the ingredients together.
To make the salad: Combine the quinoa and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn down the heat to low, cover the pot and cook another 10 minutes, or until the quinoa has softened and the water has evaporated; set aside.
Toast the pistachios in a small skillet over low heat until they are just golden brown and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes; set aside.
Place the spinach in a large bowl. Thinly slice the pear and add it to the bowl along with the cranberries and olives.
Just prior to serving, add the toasted pistachios and cooked quinoa, toss with the lemon vinaigrette and season to taste with salt.
Serve family style or in individual bowls or on plates.
Tip: Getting the garlic really finely minced or crushed will help the flavor dissipate, so that instead of biting into a piece of raw garlic, the salad is nicely seasoned with a garlic essence.