Go green on St. Patrick’s Day

A nutritional powerhouse that avoids the stereotype Irish stew or potato pancakes feed for this traditional holiday.

Spinach and exotic chicken has a very unusual flavour and it is very filling.

I suppose Irish stew and potato pancakes might be a little more Irish, but to me, if it’s green, it’s fair game for a celebration of the blarney.

Since I’m a big fan of spinach, that’s where I’m heading this St. Patrick’s Day. Those baby leaves are nutritional powerhouses, even if they aren’t quite shaped like a four-leaved clover.

Sometimes you have to make your own luck and good health has little to do with luck and a lot to do with how you look after yourself: with lots of sleep and plenty of vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.

If that can all be wrapped in an attractive package, all the better, because that way your friends and family won’t even realize you’re helping them to be more healthy.

And, that’s what these recipes do: they hide all that good nutrition behind some yummy flavours and textures, so no one would even realize that what they’re eating is actually good for them.

Both of these dishes are pretty economical to make and pretty easy too—and to top it all off, they’re very tasty too.

So, celebrate that little bit of Irish each of us carries around with us to pull out on St. Patrick’s Day, with a little bit of healthy, green food that everyone will love.

For more green foods that everyone will enjoy, pick up a copy of my new book, Jude’s Kitchen, published by the Okanagan Institute. It’s available wherever books are sold.

 

 

Em’s Spinach & Cheese-topped Chicken

The whole family loved this combination of crispy chicken and flavourful, cheesy topping, and it’s was easy to see why: it was yummy.

Topping:

2 c. (500 ml) chopped spinach

I onion

3 large garlic cloves

drizzle of oil

1 tsp. (5 ml) basil

1/2 c. (125 ml) mozzarella cheese

1/2 c. (125 ml) ricotta cheese

1 tbsp. (15 ml) parmesan cheese

1 egg

salt & pepper, to taste

pinch of nutmeg

 

 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 egg

1/2 c. (125 ml) fine bread crumbs

salt and pepper, to taste

drizzle of oil

1/4 c. (60 ml) mozzarella cheese

 

 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Chop spinach and onion and mince garlic.

Saute the onion over medium heat until soft and then add the garlic and basil.

Add the coarsely-chopped spinach and turn about in the pan until it begins to wilt. Remove from the heat and cool.

Grate all the mozzarella cheese and set aside in a half cup and a quarter cup.

In a separate bowl combine the half-cup shredded mozzarella with the ricotta and parmesan cheese, egg, salt and pepper, to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Combine cooled spinach mixture with cheese mixture.

Dip chicken in egg then bread crumbs seasoned with salt and pepper.

Fry over medium-high heat in a drizzle of oil until just brown.

Place chicken on a baking rack in a foil-lined cookie sheet.

Top each piece of chicken with a portion of the cheese and spinach mixture, then divide the remaining mozzarella cheese amongst the breast pieces.

Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes.

 

 

Warm Spinach Salad with Exotic Chicken

This has a very unusual flavour and it’s very filling, but it’s not high in fat or sugar. I picked up the schezuan peppercorns at a new shop in Mission Park called Crescendo. Lots of wild and wonderful flavours in vinegars and oils too!

A serving of basmatic rice under the spinach would satisfy some people more, and I’d add a quarter to a half cup of chicken stock to the chicken mixture in that case.

3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 small onion

6-8 mushrooms

2 tbsp. (30 ml) fresh ginger

1 orange

1 tsp. (5 ml) orange zest

1/4 tsp. (1 ml) chili pequins

1 tsp. (5 ml) Schezuan peppercorns

drizzle of oil

freshly-ground black pepper

sprinkle of cinnamon

sea salt, to taste

2 tbsp. (30 ml) dry sherry

1/4-1/2 c. ( 60-125 ml) chicken stock

basmati rice, optional

 

Chop chicken thighs into small dice. Chop onion and slice mushrooms. Slice ginger and cut into small matchsticks. Zest an orange and cut it up to squish the juice into the chicken mixture later.

Finely mince the chilies and finely grind the peppercorns.

Drizzle grapeseed oil into a saute pan over medium-high heat and soften the ginger, onion, and then the mushrooms, stirring occasionally.

Push the onions and mushrooms to the side and add the chicken bits to the pan. Turn the heat to medium and turn over the chicken.

Mince the orange zest and add it to the pan with the chilies. Stir and then grind black pepper over it all, as well as a sprinkle of cinnamon and sea salt.

Cook for a minute until the chicken is just cooked through, then squeeze the orange juice over it all and add the sherry and Schezuan peppercorns.

If using basmati rice, add chicken stock to the pan and stir well, to combine everything.

Serve over spinach, with rice underneath, if you choose.

Serves 2-3.