Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spinach and Strawberry Salad tries Dessert

Another month has flown by, and I am definitely starting to get not-so-subtle summertime cravings. After spending five springs in the SF Bay Area, I have become spoiled by early strawberries, luxurious cherries, and a smattering of other tempting fruit that does not fall under the category of apples or pears. However, the month of May at our illustrious Seattle farmers markets seem to give a whole new meaning to the Emerald City. We consider rhubarb a spring “fruit”, because we use it in pie (and have over-dosed on our cold-stored apples by now). Don’t get me wrong; I love Seattle, our farmers markets, and the bounty of leafy and stalky greens available come May. I just want something to bake with, too!

So, when the key ingredient of this month’s Sweet or Savor Kitchen Challenge was announced as spinach, I set out to experiment with this favored salad green. I love spinach, and it excites me to no end that I can get it from local farms. This Middle-Eastern (ancient Persia, anyone?) native was introduced into Mediterranean Europe in the early 9th century and slowly worked its way north, where it experienced untold popularity as an early-spring green. Spinach is quite the superfood - nutrient dense and high in all our favorite vitamins and minerals, so eat up!

In fact, it has featured prominently in my diet since I went veg. I remember in high school, on the way to diving practice my teammates would often comment on my rabbit-like tendencies, munching happily on my “leaves.” But I’m not presenting my favorite spinach, strawberry, and toasted pecan salad with a tangy raspberry vinaigrette. Today is a gung-ho baking day! And yes, I caved and bought organic, California-grown strawberries. C’mon, I’m only human!

Spring Picnic Cupcakes (Wheat-Free)
Yield 1 Dozen

1/3 cup Oil (or melted coconut butter/oil for a richer flavor)
1 ½ cups Pulverized Spinach (ie. Food-process until broken down)
¾ cup Almond Milk (unsweetened)
1 1/3 cup Turbinado Sugar
1/3 cup Unsweetened Applesauce (thick, homemade preferred)
1 ½ tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (or lemon juice)

¾ cup Almond Meal
1 2/3 cups Spelt Flour
1/3 cup Tapioca Starch
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 ½ tsp Baking Soda
¾ tsp Baking Powder
1 ½ tsp Cinnamon

1 cup Strawberry Preserves

1. Combine liquid ingredients thoroughly. Add pulverized spinach.
2. Mix in dry ingredients until well incorporated. Batter should not be runny and relatively thick.
3. Divide batter into lined cupcake tins.
4. Bake 350F for 25-30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.
5. Let cool. Use a sharp paring knife to cut off tops at a slight downward angle. Scoop out a little of the top with a spoon and then use a small cookie cutter to remove part of the top (a flower would be lovely).6. Fill void in cupcake with about 1 tbs of strawberry preserves. Replace top and fill in shape with more preserves. Enjoy!

Strawberry GREEN THUMB Print Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Yield 2 Dozen

3 tbs Oil
¼ cup Almond Butter
¼ cup Agave Nectar
1/3 cup Turbinado (or other unrefined) Sugar
3 tbs Almond Milk (unsweetened)
¾ cup Food-Processed Spinach (measure after chopped)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 tbs Ground Flax Seed
¾ cup Coarsely Chopped Raw Almonds
1 cup Almond Flour
1/3 cup Rice Flour
2 tbs Tapioca Starch
½ tsp Sea Salt
¾ tsp Baking Powder
¾ tsp Baking Soda

1 cup Strawberry Preserves

1. Mix together wet ingredients. Add flax seed and let sit for a couple of minutes
2. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients. Mix until fully incorporated.
3. Use a tablespoon or mini ice-cream scoop to portion out 24 cookies evenly onto a silpat or parchment paper.
4. Bake at 350F for 8 minutes. Press center of each cookie down to make the “thumbprint.” Fill with strawberry preserves.
5. Bake for another 4 minutes until starting to brown. Remove from oven and cool until firm

As a side note, I have eaten a total of four strawberries grown in my backyard...just not enough to make this super-easy strawberry jam!

Spinach on Foodista Strawberry on Foodista

1 comment:

Ricki said...

Rachel, I love both these creative, innovative recipes! Thanks for going sweet this time (and for including a great GF recipe, too). And of course I love the name, "Green ThumbPRINT Cookies"! Hee hee. What a great contribution to this month's challenge! :D