Twenty-Five Ways to Use Frozen Spinach
With food and fuel prices continuing to rise, we all need help finding areas to conserve. One of the cheapest items at the grocery store? Boxed frozen spinach. Think it can't be sexy? Read on.
Personally, I find the chopped version to be a bit more versatile than the leaf kind. If you happen to really love the leaf variety, go with your gut. Either way, here are 25 ways to sex it up for family meals and snacks. (See also: Make-Ahead Food: 10 Things to Cook on a Sunday)
1. Spinach and Cheese Bread
Whether you are doing this with a no-knead batter bread or trying out a new money-saving bread machine recipe, this is a great way to have something to slice and toss in the toaster oven for lunch if you are working at home. Bonus? It's also a slamming dinner side with a frugal homemade soup. Here's a recipe for spinach bread from Allrecipes.
2. Gourmet Soup
Short on parsley? Take a handful of the squeezed dry spinach you have set aside for another recipe and get some extra nutrition in your falafel. We just did this yesterday. Yummy. Here's a a basic falafel recipe that you can modify easily. For example, we only used garbanzo beans rather than the two bean combo. Our supper falafel was still suitably yummy.
4. Stuffed Shells
Thaw a box, squeeze it dry, and mix it in with some low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta and some garlic. Put the mixture in a frosting bag or a plastic zip bag with a snipped off corner and pipe it into some partially cooked jumbo pasta shells. Place those in a greased baking dish and top with your sauce of choice and some mozzarella cheese.
Whether you want to include some meat in your lasagna or go strictly with the spinach, cheese and canned mushrooms in your layers, frozen chopped spinach really adds some color and pizzazz to the dish.
6. Hot Dip
Several chain restaurants have a really hip version of spinach or spinach combo dips. Poke around for a fun knock-off recipe and try it out at home. Need a source? Thursday Bram just did a great post on copy-cat recipes in general.
7. Tortilla Pinwheel Appetizers
Mix up some frozen chopped spinach with some low fat cream cheese, garlic, red pepper and a bit of mayo. Spread a layer on a flat tortilla. Roll it up and slice off in rounds. Lay those flat on a round serving tray. You'll be amazed how many appetizers you can crank out with one batch of filling and a package of tortillas. Want to squeeze even more pennies out of the budget? Try making your own tortillas with this homemade bulk mix recipe.
8. Quiches and Frittatas
I love making these in the summer because they can served at any temperature, really. Here's a recipe for a spinach feta quiche, but you could use low fat cream cheese to save cash and calories if you want. Leave off the crust and bake it in a square pan to serve a crust-less version in bar form.
9. Spinach-Garlic Pizza
Not something I've seen in the States much, this was available at most of the ristorantes and trattorias in Northern Italy when we lived there. It's pretty good with either a tomato or Alfredo sauce on the crust. Even as a meat lover, I seriously dig this pizza. Bonus? It takes hardly any of the spinach from the box and leaves lots to use in other recipes. Dress it up with either mushroom slices, chopped chicken or sausage bits if you want. But it was really popular on its own in country. Use the freshly minced or pressed garlic if you can.
10. Eggs Florentine
Using some of the power savings strategies for egg substitutions I wrote about a while back? If so, you'll have plenty of extra eggs to use in this signature spinach dish that's great for a special brunch. Here's a quick and simple recipe.
11. Casserole Add-In
OK, so this might be a bit hum-drum after the other suggestions. But for those nights where you just want comfort food or need a pre-made dinner on the fly, casserole gets the job done. Think left-over combinations such as rice, chicken, spinach and cheese.
12. Bread-Bowl Dinner
I think these are one of the sexiest date dinners you can serve. But that's just my opinion. Take a round loaf from the bread machine, cut off the top third, and scoop out the inside leaving about three quarters of an inch for extra hold. Cut or break up the top third of the loaf and the inside pieces. Place the hollowed out round on a cookie sheet with the pieces all around it. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or so to make everything crusty. In the meantime, make a thinned out version of the spinach dip suggested above, adding in some precooked turkey sausage if you want. Serve this inside the bread bowl when it comes out of the oven. Light the candles and pour the wine. Simple.
13. Biscuit Pie
Those of you used to creating a million and one things with homemade baking mix will already be familiar with these. One of my favorites can be used for either supper or breakfast and uses frozen spinach, turkey sausage, cheese, red pepper and eggs. Pretty awesome on Christmas morning, in my humble opinion.
14. Go Greek
There are loads of way to combine these items in traditional Greek style. Here's a quick pasta dish recipe to get you started.
15. Spinach Gnocchi
Love Italian? This spinach gnocchi dish will get you drooling for sure.
16. Meatloaf Jazzer-Upper
I've used this in salmon loaves as well as regular meatloaf. Speaking of meatloaf, if you haven't checked out Linsey's recent post over at Parenting Squad on ways to jazz up meatloaf, it is seriously worth a read.
17. Southwestern Egg Rolls
Those of you who love to hang out at Chili's will already be familiar with these. For those that haven't yet had the pleasure, here's a recipe. One word. Yum.
Those of you who prefer to go meatless with your stuffed pastas may be getting sick of plain cheese and bread crumbs. Try out some frozen spinach in your ravioli and tortelloni fillings. You might like it. I know I do.
19. Spinach-Feta Triangles
One of my coworkers on Guam used to make these for every holiday gathering. They are time consuming, but fairly elegant. Bonus? Always a hit at parties. Here's a recipe.
20. Stromboli/Stuffed Bread
Personally, I love these at dinner parties where you want to go a bit higher end on the menu, but still want a comfortable atmosphere. Super bowl parties, for example, or Sunday brunch. Calzones would also be an example of stuffed bread. This link will take you to directions for a form of Stromboli. You may have other recipes you already enjoy using as well. If so, please post below to share the love.
21. Spinach and Potato Pie
Apparently, quite the popular item for various Jewish holidays. For myself, I just find it yummy. Here are some instructions.
22. Spinach Risotto
Great side dish. Really. Also a super way to use up any orzo you happen to have kicking around.
23. Tortellini and Spinach Salad
I'm a pasta salad freak from way back. Especially in the summer when I want to make one dish and have it last for a few days. Try it out.
24. Hot Spinach Balls
A fun way to use the boxed version as a side dish by mixing it with stuffing mix and other ingredients. Yum!
25. Mediterranean Flavored Cheese Balls
Great for parties where you want to include an element of the unexpected. Here's a link to an artichoke, spinach and feta version.
This post was meant to represent both the best of the best when it comes to yummy ways to use what most consider a boring grocery purchase, and some age-old staples such as casseroles and meatloaf for basic shoestring survival hounds. Got something you feel is particularly stellar? As usual, I'd be thrilled if you'd share the love and post below. Happy saving, everybody. I hope this helps.