Spinach, Goat Cheese and Herb Tart

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Herb Tart

The recipe for this tart is a bit further in the post. First, I’d like to share a little story of exactly how this tart came to be.

Last November I took a cooking class at our local Sur la Table that featured appetizers for holiday parties. I learned the details of palmiers and have been making them ever since. They are so simple to make and are an elegant appetizer for any party or dinner.

Here’s a peek at my very first batch. I made these Portobello & Parmesan Palmiers for our appetizer table before Thanksgiving dinner last year.

Parmesan & Portobello Palmiers

Anyway, I had a little get together for the 4th of July and wanted to make these again. I already had the Parmesan and portobellos, so when I was doing my shopping for the menu I quickly grabbed a few boxes of puff pastry and moved on to the next item on my list.

On the day of the party, the palmiers were the last item left to make because I like to serve them fresh out of the oven. Only when I opened the first box of (what I thought was) puff pastry did I realize that I had grabbed phyllo sheets instead of puff pastry.

I had a sinking feeling these two are not interchangeable in a recipe for palmiers and a quick Internet search confirmed this. Needless to say, I did not serve Parmesan & Portobello Palmiers that day.

The four boxes of phyllo dough left in my freezer inspired today’s recipe (and will probably inspire a few more to come).

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Herb Tart
Adapted from the NY Times recipe Goat Cheese, Chard and Herb Pie in a Phyllo Crust

Ingredients
1 large bunch spinach
8 oz. goat cheese
¾ cup milk
3 eggs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10 sheets phyllo
½ cup chopped fresh herbs – I used chives, dill, and a little oregano
Olive oil or melted butter
Salt and pepper

Prepare
Preheat the oven to 350°.

Thoroughly wash and drain the spinach. I like to wash mine two or three times. Seriously, there is nothing worse than gritty spinach.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and then the spinach and blanch for about 1 to 2 minutes. Meanwhile, set up an ice bath with cold water and some ice cubes in a large bowl. Transfer the spinach to the ice bath to stop it from continuing to cook. Once it’s cool, squeeze out the excess water. I like to use a clean tea towel for this. Chop the spinach.

Add the eggs and goat cheese to a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, blend until the mixture is smooth. Add the milk, chopped garlic cloves, herbs, and drained spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly to combine.

Butter a tart or pie pan. Carefully unfold the phyllo dough and take out 10 sheets. Immediately refold the remaining phyllo and refrigerate or freeze. Keep a few damp paper towels nearby to keep the phyllo sheets from drying out. Using one sheet at a time, carefully line the pan with the phyllo. Brush each layer with melted butter or oil before adding the next sheet.

I placed each sheet at an angle and allowed the edge to stand up above the pan’s rim. If you have a lot of dough hanging off the rim you can scrunch it down, but it won’t look as pretty when it bakes.

Once your crust is done, add the spinach mixture and use a spatula to make the top even. Before placing in the oven, fold small pieces of aluminum foil and carefully cover the phyllo edge to keep it from burning. Be very careful not to tear the edges of the phyllo.

Pop in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the middle is set. Uncover the phyllo in the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking to allow the edges to become golden brown.

Spinach, Goat Cheese, and Herb Tart

Summer in DC Bucket List

Sunset over National Harbor

This post is about two things I love: summer time and making lists.

      1. Enjoy as many summer sunsets as possible. I took the picture above a few weeks ago on a visit to the Capital Wheel at National Harbor.
      2. Pack a blanket and snacks and watch a film outdoors at the park.
      3. Make watermelon granita.
      4. Practice more yoga.
      5. Go hiking at Shenandoah National Park.
      6. Host a successful picnic or an alfresco dinner party.
      7. Go to an observatory and star gaze.
      8. Paddle boat on the Potomac.
      9. Make s’mores, preferably over a bonfire.
      10. Visit the Library of Congress.
      11. Go hang gliding.
      12. Visit Monticello, home of my favorite president.
      13. Go to an outdoor concert. One Republic and The Script on June 27!
      14. Rent a bike from Capital Bikeshare and tour DC from a different perspective.
      15. Take a road trip to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell. And eat a cheesesteak. And a soft pretzel.
      16. Finish a beach read.
      17. Go to Busch Gardens and ride all the roller coasters.
      18. People watch in Dupont Circle.
      19. Go to a Nationals baseball game.
      20. Make homemade ice cream.
      21. Take a nap on a hammock or porch swing.
      22. Catch the meteor shower in August.
      23. Watch fireworks.
      24. Go to the beach (duh).
      25. Slow down and live in the moment.

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Lemon and Basil Pasta with Peas

Lemon Basil Pasta with Peas

I made this simple pasta dish over the weekend and it was a hit. My favorite part is the sauce, it’s light and creamy and has a zip from the lemon zest.

What makes this recipe even better is that it requires the stove to be on for a minimal amount of time, which is perfect for a hot summer day.

I created this as a meatless option, but it would also be great with some grilled shrimp or roasted chicken.

Lemon Basil Pasta with Peas (Adapted from Pasta with Peas & Basil by Fine Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 8 oz whole wheat linguine*
  • 2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup peas, I used frozen
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup Parmesan, grated
  • ¼ cup basil chiffonade
  • Fresh cracked black pepper

Prepare

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the pasta. As that is working, melt the butter in a large pan. Add the shallots and allow to cook until soft, about 3 or 4 minutes. Then add the chicken stock and allow to reduce by half. When ready, add in the peas and the zest of one lemon.

Remove the sauce pan from the heat and add the sour cream. Mix gently to allow the cream to melt and create the sauce. Be careful not to melt the cream all the way and make your sauce runny.

As soon as the pasta is done, drain and add to the sauce and peas mixture. Mix to incorporate the sauce evenly throughout. You can add some of the pasta water if it’s too dry.

For an extra kick of lemon and a pretty garnish, cut the zested lemon in half and sear on a very hot skillet or grill for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the juice of the grilled lemon to the pasta.

Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan, basil, and fresh cracked pepper. Serve with a side of grilled lemon.

* You can use your favorite pasta here. I learned that the linguine wasn’t able to hold the peas and most of them ended up on the bottom of my plate. I would recommend a pasta that has twists (rotini or cavatappi) or wells (orecchiette) to help catch the peas.

Lemon and Basil Pasta with Peas  | On Mill Road

Happy First Day of Summer!

How are you celebrating the summer solstice?

For me, the summer season means festivals. And I definitely started off on the right foot this season.

Here’s a quick peak at my afternoon.

Alexandria Food & Wine Festival

And my perfect first-day-of-summer dinner…

Lobsta Tails

Needless to say, today has been wonderful and a great start to the summer. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Weekly Wish List: Ready for the Beach

Just add sunshine and salt water..

Ready for the Beach | On Mill Road

1. Seersucker Gold Trim Top  |  J. Crew  |  $58

2. Seersucker Gold Trim Hipster  |  J. Crew  |  $48

3. Cats 5000 Flash Lenses  |  Ray Ban  |  $160

4. Fringe Halter Top  |  Victoria’s Secret  |  $21 (on sale!)

5. Frilled Bandeau Bikini  |  Zara  |  $19.90

6. Bikini Bottom with Bows  |  Zara  |  $19.90

7. Bikini Lab Polka-Dot Cropped Bikini Top  |  Macy’s  |  $26.60

8. Bikini Lab Polka-Dot Side-Tie Bikini Bottom  |  Macy’s  |  $25.20

9. Tommy Hilfiger Signature Canvas Tote  |  Macy’s  |  $88.99 (on sale!)

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad | On Mill Road

Though there are 10 days remaining until the official start, I’m definitely in a summer state of mind. The weather has been beautiful recently and I’ve already got one successful grilling session under my belt and even squeezed in some pool time over Memorial Day weekend. It’s a tough life, I tell you.

Anyway, one of my favorite parts of the summer (and there are many) is the fresh fruit that’s in season. For me, summer is synonymous with chilled watermelon, sweet mangoes, and deep red strawberries.

I always go a little overboard when I first start to see these fruits pop up at the farmer’s markets and grocery store. And in keeping with my aversion to change unsurprisingly, I purchased over 2 pounds of strawberries last week and am now running out of ways to use them.

Fresh Strawberries | On Mill Road

I’ve been eating them straight from the container, in breakfast smoothies, and even had some with chocolate mousse as a fantastic dessert last night. My goal is not to waste a single one. Which brings me to today’s lunch: Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad.

Like most of the recipes on the blog, this one is super simple and is an easy go-to for a quick lunch. Add some grilled chicken, and you’ve got a great dinner.

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup baby spinach
  •  ½ cup fresh strawberries, sliced
  •  ¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled
  •  ¼ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Prepare

Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and drizzle with your favorite dressing. That’s about it.

I used a little olive oil and red wine vinegar here, but I think balsamic dressing would be a great on this. You can also add some thinly sliced red onion. Really, there are many variations of this salad, so feel free to add what you like!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I’ll be honest, until a couple of years ago, I didn’t really know the origins of Cinco de Mayo or why it is a prominent holiday in the US. If you are like I was (it’s OK to admit it, this is a no-judgement zone), here’s a handy article on the holiday.

Even though I have learned that Cinco de Mayo is not limited to celebrating Mexican culture and food (though I do think salsa deserves its own holiday), I believe there’s nothing wrong with toasting Mexico’s victory in the battle of Puebla with a refreshing margarita.

My favorite is the classic margarita. As you can see, I celebrated a little early with a post dinner drink last night at one of my favorite places in DC, the courtyard at Poste Moderne Brasserie.

Classic Margarita

Though I don’t have the exact recipe Poste uses, here’s a simple one from Bon Appetit.

Enjoy later today while appreciating Mexican heritage, commemorating the battle of Puebla, or simply because it’s Monday.

Bon Appetit’s Classic Margarita
1 ½ oz. tequila
1 ½ oz. triple sec or Cointreau
1 to 1 ¼ oz. lime juice
Salt for the rim of the glass

Shake all the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker until the exterior frosts. Strain into a glass over ice, or “up” into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of lime.