Spinach, Artichoke & Leek Dip

Most recipes for spinach artichoke dip require a particular step that has always put me off: thawing frozen spinach and squeezing it dry. The bits of wet, defrosted spinach tend to stick on everything, and it’s hard to get enough liquid out.

Then I discovered that using fresh spinach is actually easier, because the liquid cooks off when you saute it! Suddenly a ho-hum dish turned into one I actually enjoy making. Plus it’s so delicious, people inevitably keep coming back for more.

Adapted from The New York TimesSpinach Artichoke Dip.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, chopped (white and light green portion only)
1 clove garlic, minced
12 oz fresh spinach, chopped
1 14-oz can artichoke hearts (I prefer bottoms), drained, patted dry and chopped
8 oz cream cheese, cut into small pieces
4 oz fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
4 oz sour cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
pinch red pepper flakes
salt
pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the leek in oil until softened and starting to brown slightly. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute more.

Add spinach a little at a time, allowing it to wilt in the pan before adding more. Saute until the spinach is cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add artichokes and cook for a few minutes more.

Turn the heat down to low, then add cream cheese and mozzarella and stir until melted. Add sour cream, Parmesan and red pepper flakes and stir until well mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a shallow 1-quart dish and serve hot. You can also refrigerate overnight; reheat in a 375-degree oven until the dip is hot throughout and bubbly on the edges.

Pictured: Corning Ware Merry Mushroom B-1-B Round, Pyrex Verde 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl

Roasted Chicken and Leeks

I’m the type of person who sometimes finds herself with too many leeks. Or kumquats. Or avocados. Or eggs. Mostly it’s because I have no concept of quantity when I’m ordering my Imperfect Produce delivery online. So a good portion of my cooking starts with “What am I going to do with all this x?” And when it’s a vegetable, roasting is usually involved.

Roasting leeks and chicken together makes for an especially easy dish because there’s minimal prep and minimal clean-up required. Pair it with some rice and a salad, and dinner is served!

Serves 6-8

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Ingredients

2 large leeks (about 1 1/2 lbs), sliced in 1/4-inch rounds

1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

4 lbs chicken drumsticks (bone-in, skin-on)

2 bay leaves

2 tsp dried thyme

olive oil

salt

pepper

paprika (sweet)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large roasting pan or sheet pan, combine leeks, onion and bay leaves. Sprinkle with 1 tsp thyme plus salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp olive oil and toss until everything is coated.

Arrange the chicken on top of the leek mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp thyme plus salt, pepper and paprika. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the chicken.

Bake until chicken is golden and internal temperature is at least 165 degrees (for this recipe I prefer it closer to 180 degrees), about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside. Spread the leek mixture around evenly, then turn on the broiler and move a rack up about 4 inches from the heat source. Broil the leeks a few minutes until slightly browned (even charred in spots).

Serve chicken topped with the leek mixture. Garnish with fresh thyme if desired.

Pictured: Corning Ware White A-21-B-N Open Roaster

Rustic Potato Leek Soup with Sausage and Kale

Sausage, potatoes and greens are a classic soup combo that I have made a bunch of different ways. For the sausage I’ve used linguica, Spanish chorizo, andouille, kielbasa. Potatoes could be white beans, barley, rice, quinoa. In place of kale: spinach, collard greens, broccoli leaves. (On a side note, if you ever have a chance to get some broccoli leaves, do it! We were ordering them in our Imperfect Produce¬†box for a while and braising them like other hearty greens — really yummy. I’ve never seen them in stores.)

For this soup I wanted to use some of the flavors of potato leek soup but make it chunkier and brothier, like a stew. If you’re not a fan of kale, you can sub in spinach — add it after the potatoes are cooked and simmer for a minute or so just to cook it lightly.

Whether you opt for kale or spinach, it’s helpful to use an oversized pot, so that there’s plenty of room to accommodate the greens before they wilt and become more manageable. I used a 6 3/4-quart Le Crueset dutch oven, my go-to pot for making soup and cooking greens.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 lb bulk italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 leeks, chopped (white and light green portion only)
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs mixed potatoes, partially peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (I used russet and red potatoes)
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 bay leaf
10 oz kale (about 2 bunches), stemmed and chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up into bite-sized crumbles, until it’s browned through. Add onions, leeks and celery and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute more.

Add potatoes, chicken broth, wine, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then stir in kale. Bring to a boil again, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer until the potatoes are cooked and the kale is tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the cream and heat to warm through, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pictured: Pyrex Butterfly Gold 402 Round Mixing Bowl; Pyrex Spring Blossom 402 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl