Spiced Peas and Spinach with Coconut

Indian spiced peas with coconut

Whole spices and coconut toasted in the pan evoke Indian flavors, though this dish works well with all sorts of menus.   Black mustard seeds are a staple of Southern Indian cuisine.  They’re stocked at most grocery stores, but head to an Indian market where you’ll find them inexpensively priced, in bulk, along with all sorts of other goodies like lentils and tea.

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Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Rolls

These pasta bundles are essentially lasagna rolled up on its side, rather than laid flat. They’re fun and easy, for a change of pace.  The small amount of goat cheese mixed into the filling offers a welcome tang.  Look for fresh ricotta, it’s far superior to the mass-produced version stocked in supermarkets.  You’ll find it at Whole Foods, small specialty grocers or high-end markets.

If you like, add chopped, fresh mushrooms to the filling too.  Cook the mushrooms with the garlic—before adding the spinach—until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes or so.

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Israeli Couscous Salad with Spinach, Pistachios and Lemon

This light, spring salad finds inspiration in the flavors of the Middle East.  Israeli couscous is a round, pasta-like product — you’ll find it with dried grains and legumes at many grocery stores. Substitute orzo if you are unable to locate.  Cook the couscous like you would pasta, in plenty of water until it is past al dente — pleasantly soft when you bite into it, though not mushy.  Arugula could sub for spinach here, or a few handfuls of fresh spring herbs.  Add some blanched broccoli, crunchy celery or fennel.  Try cooked lentils instead of chickpeas.  Or leave the legumes out entirely.  Zest the lemon before juicing, for easiest handling.

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