• October 20, 2014

A healthier Irish dish for St. Patrick’s Day

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Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 4:30 am

Each year around St. Patrick’s Day, I decide to embrace a small part of my ancestry and serve a traditional Irish meal.

One of my favorite dishes is shepherd’s pie — a peasant dish often made from the week’s leftovers, which traditionally would be ground or chopped lamb, potatoes and other seasonal vegetables.

But since I’ve been eating more vegetarian dishes this year, I went looking for a new recipe without meat and came across one for spinach pie, which gets extra protein from cottage cheese.

It’s a tasty way to eat more greens, and it pairs well with other traditional fare, such as soda bread or Irish stew. It can be a main course at lunch or a side dish at brunch or dinner, satisfying the entire family.

SPINACH PIES

Makes: 6 servings

You’ll need six 4½-inch tartlet pans for this recipe, preferably with removable bottoms. This also can be made in a deep 9-inch tart pan; adjust the baking time as needed.

20 ounces fresh baby spinach, rinsed

1 medium white onion, chopped

2 large eggs, beaten

10 ounces low-fat cottage cheese, preferably small-curd

10 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Heat a wide saucepan of water over medium-high heat; seat a steamer basket above the water level. Place half of the spinach in the steamer. Cover and steam until just wilted, then drain and coarsely chop.

Press with paper towels to remove as much moisture from the spinach as possible, then transfer to a large bowl.

Repeat with the remaining spinach.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to grease the tartlet pans, then arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet.

Add the onion to the spinach, along with the eggs, cottage cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pepper and nutmeg; stir to blend well. Divide evenly among the tartlet pans.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until barely browned on the edges and set at the center.

Wait 5 minutes before dislodging from the tartlet pans. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition per serving: 300 calories, 30 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 115 mg cholesterol, 1,010 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

Adapted from: “Irish Country Cooking: More Than 100 Recipes for Today’s Table” from the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (Sterling, 2014).

M. Clare Haefner enjoys cooking for family and friends. Contact her at chaefner@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7551.

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