Only 12 days left until the official beginning of spring! The weather in our neck of the woods behaves as if it can’t or won’t read the calendar though, and there are times when the cold gusts of wind and wintery showers never seem to end. But then again there is also the occasional break between the showers, when the sun is starting to make a less than timid appearance, the neighbourhood birdies definitely sound a lot chirpier than they have been for the past few months, the grass is beautifully green, and the scent of spring is definitely in the air. And that’s when we start dreaming of lovely sunny spring days, and gorgeous spring vegetables, such as asparagus, young peas and broad beans… But there is still a while to go before we can enjoy those, so in the mean time, we’re simply trying to make the most of available veggies.
Chef Gerald definitely has lots to look forward to over the coming months, as this will be his first spring as a grown up birdie Just imagine how much fun he will have with all those goodies he has never seen before!!! Mummy and Daddy have great plans for a big first birthday party for him in October, but haven’t told him anything just yet – it’s supposed to be a surprise!
Back to our weekly menu though, this was a quinoa-inspired week at Bistro Gerard. Following from our highly successful cheddar, oat and quinoa biscuits, we included these healthy wholegrains in our mid-week meal experiment, which was a zucchini, silverbeet and quinoa bake. By “bake” we mean a dish that wasn’t cheesy enough to qualify as a gratin, or “eggy” enough to be called a frittata, but somewhere in-between. This dish doesn’t look too pretty, although there’s a nice colour contrast between the bright green leaves and golden corn, but it certainly made up for that in terms of flavour. It’s also great because it’s a highly customisable recipe, giving you a great opportunity to use up whatever leftovers you have in your fridge (we had a piece of left over roast chicken that got shredded and incorporated here). It will not hold together very well on this reduced-egg formula, so you will have to spoon it onto the plate rather than cut it into a free standing slice/shape.
Zucchini Silverbeet and Quinoa Bake
1 bunch silverbeet, rinsed and drained, stalks partially trimmed and discarded
2 bunches spinach, rinsed and drained
2 large zucchini, thinly sliced
Kernels from 1 fresh ear of corn
1 bunch chives, finely chopped
Some shredded cooked chicken (optional)
4 tbsp double/heavy cream
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups cooked quinoa
150 g goat’s cheese, cut into small cubes/rectangles
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Lightly oil a 2.5l baking dish
Start by roughly chopping the silverbeet and spinach leaves – you could, of course, use only silverbeet or spinach, just adjust the quantities accordingly. If using very fresh silverbeet, you can also slice part of the stalks and incorporate in the dish, they taste great. Heat a large frying pan, then cook the leaves for a few minutes until they are wilted. Lift from the pan and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, squeeze as much liquid out as possible, and then shred as finely as possible.
Heat the olive oil in the same frying pan, then add the garlic, zucchini slices, chives and corn, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 7 – 8 minutes, until the zucchini has started softening. Remove from heat and leave for a few minutes to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, mix the eggs and sour cream.
Add the silverbeet/spinach mixture, chicken (if using) and eggs/sour cream to the cooked zucchini and mix well.
Spoon this mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with cooked quinoa. Place the goat’s cheese cubes on top of the quinoa layer, ensuring they are evenly distributed across the entire surface of the dish. Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes. Serves 4.