The Moosewood Restaurant Table: Pasta with Spinach and Apricots and Cheesy Garlic Toast and book review

I have several more recipes from The Moosewood Restaurant Table I want to try, even featured on our menu this week, but due to the tragic passing of Anthony Bourdain, the Food52 Cookbook Club has decided to add two of his cookbooks to our lineup for the month and I really want to pay homage to him by cooking from his book Appetites for the rest of the month. That being said, I do have one more meal to share for now from Moosewood and a short book review today.

Spinach and Apricot Pasta – the thought of it had me immediately skeptical and intrigued. I love a good quick vegetarian pasta dish (see my creamy sun dried tomato pasta) and when I looked at the very basic ingredients that we already had on hand, I knew it was going to be a dish to make.

The funny thing about trying a recipe you know could be quick and easy is that the first time, you always stuff that up. And I well and truly turned a meal that should’ve only taken 30 minutes into over an hour and used probably 3 times the number of dishes that I should’ve. It’s all part of the challenge of a new recipe.

The first thing to do is chop up some dried apricots and leave them to soak in boiled water and toast some pine nuts. Put a box of pasta on to cook and get started on the rest of the sauce. Saute some minced garlic in olive oil, add spinach and let it wilt.

Drain the pasta reserving some of the pasta water and return the pasta to the saucepan. Add some more olive oil and some crumbled feta and the pasta water and stir it through to make it saucy. Then add this pasta to the big saute pan with the spinach and then drain and add the apricots and add the pinenuts. Season with salt and pepper and you’re done!

I couldn’t help myself when I saw a cheesy garlic toast recipe. I had to make it and we had to have it with this pasta. And it was so easy to throw together!

You cook a whole head of peeled garlic in olive oil over low heat until it’s nice and soft then you add some parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, lemon zest and red pepper flakes and wizz it all together with a stick blender. Spread this mixture onto a baguette that’s been sliced lengthwise and put it in the oven until it’s nice and melted. Then you just chop it into smaller pieces and serve.

This bread was the perfect complement to our vegetarian pasta dinner. What a feast!

The Moosewood Restaurant Table cookbook was not one I was very excited about to be honest. However, when I finally got a hold of it and flipped through it, there were a list of recipes a mile long I wanted to try. Each recipe we’ve had so far has been successful and I love that there are some recipes that are vegan in there too. I’m really looking forward to having the Butternut Latkes with the Fennel Apple Slaw (taste testing the slaw to see if it would be good to have on pulled pork burgers for Aaron’s birthday dinner). I’m also interested in the Cheesy Grape Risotto and for sweets there are definitely a few still – the scones and the vegan apple blueberry crumble come to mind.

This book makes vegetarian cooking feel approachable and the results are so comforting you forget you aren’t eating meat. I like that you don’t have to purchase weird ingredients to enjoy the meals in this book yet I love how elegant it all is. You feel like you’re eating something in a nice restaurant indeed.

To look back at the other recipes we’ve cooked from Moosewood, click on the links below:

The Moosewood Restaurant Table: Gingerbread Pancakes with Lemon Syrup

I love pancakes on Saturday mornings and Aaron makes them best! Here is a post of his most recent pancake adventure.

Backing the success of the walnut cheddar meatballs I made this week, I thought I would give Moosewood‘s gingerbread pancakes a try, as we’re big pancake fans in our house.

I started this recipe out with making the (absolutely delicious) lemon syrup…which used the usual suspects you’d expect to find in a good lemon syrup/sauce-related recipe, plus the (welcome) addition of freshly ground nutmeg. I am a HUGE fan of freshly ground nutmeg – I find it fun running that little thing over the microplane…and the fragrance – mmm!

The sauce was pretty straight forward to make – I possibly should have let it boil for a bit longer than the recipe suggested, just to get it a bit thicker, but the flavor was marvellous, so I wasn’t too disappointed I hadn’t.

Next up – the actual pancakes. And Moosewood were so kind as to split the ingredients into ‘wet’ and ‘dry’. Easy. Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients in another. Then add the wet to the dry. Very simple. Mix until just combined. Check. Hmm….this pancake batter seems very…thick. Surely it shouldn’t be this thick?

Go back to recipe. Well I’ll be…the ‘wet’ ingredients is more than just two items…there’s another column that has a few more I should’ve added. Including eggs. How the heck did I not think “oh…this is strange…not having eggs?” One of the biggest take-aways I got from this recipe was – pay attention to column breaks in ingredient lists!

Anyway, after a mad rush adding the missed ingredients, I got the pancakes onto the medium heated hot plate, and they cooked beautifully. Nice and fluffy, good cinnamonny/nutmeggy flavor. And the lemon syrup made them simply delightful.

I will definitely be trying this recipe again. All of it the first time, next time.

Walnut Cheddar “Meatballs” from The Moosewood Restaurant Table

It’s a new month which means we have new cookbooks to explore! This month, the Food52 Cookbook Club is working through a vegetarian cookbook called The Moosewood Restaurant Table and I couldn’t be more excited to be adding more vegetarian meals into our repertoire. So this month I’ll be cooking from it for Meatless Mondays as well as for the normal club posts.

For our first recipe, Aaron, who is the meatball master, tackled their vegetarian meatball recipe and served it up as we would normally for our spaghetti and meatballs. The look and smell certainly would have fooled anyone into thinking these contained meat.

The balls contain some ingredients you would normally expect – onions, garlic, herbs, bread crumbs, eggs – but what bulks them up is shredded cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and coarsely ground walnuts. Unfortunately, it was the walnuts that gave these away as meatless. The recipe says coarsely ground which left too much crunch that you normally wouldn’t get in a meatball. Other than that though, we were super pleased with this recipe and cannot wait to make them again. Next time we’ll just make sure to grind the walnuts finely, which Aaron reckons will make them easier to shape and keep them ball shaped anyway.

Can’t wait to see how our next meal turns out!