Advent 2013 Day 3 Motivation is hard, spinach is easy

I haven’t run, swum, or biked yet today and it’s already mid afternoon. Sure, I’ll be spending 3 hours later today doing martial arts, but does that really count as exercise? I’d like to think it does, but there’s always that part of my brain that says no, if it’s not swim-bike-run then it somehow doesn’t count. Which is ridiculous as the damp and sweaty stink of my dogi can attest. I shall now tell that part of my brain to shut up.

“Shut up, brain!” (Apologies to Jens Voigt for co-opting and corrupting one of his signature phrases…)

I know how stupidly hard the off-season can be to all of us, especially when it’s coupled with the stress of holidays. So let’s give ourselves permission to be a little indulgent, run (or other cross training – maybe ice skating with the kids?) because we want to, eat because food is good, and generally be good to ourselves (and each other) this season.

With that in mind, when I asked the Wife what I should do with the bag of spinach in fridge yesterday, it really wasn’t a difficult decision. So, in the spirit of indulgence and being good to ourselves, here’s our favorite spinach recipe (not particularly healthy or vegetarian). Later in the month, I’ll post some of my much healthier alternatives.

Spinach al Forno

Otherwise known in our house as Spinach Porn because with all this lovely cheese it’s pretty much the sexiest and most overindulgent thing that you can do to spinach and still call it food.

We happened upon this a while ago in the favorite Italian restaurant of a good friend of ours and knew immediately that we had to recreate it. We’ve given it a bit of a twist with the cheeses that we use and this version involves sheep, goats, and cows. Really, the cheese choice is up to you but we recommend using one hard cheese like parmesan, one crumbly cheese like feta and one soft cheese like ricotta or anything like that.

This will serve 2 as a main course or 4 as an appetizer.


  • 1/2 kg (1 pound) fresh spinach
  • 1 small to medium onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely diced)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parmesian, asiago, or other hard cheese (finely grated)
  • 100 g (3.5 oz.) feta or other crumbly cheese (crumbled)
  • 100 g (3.5 oz.) ricotta or other soft cheese
  • 100 ml (1/2 c) heavy cream


  1. Preheat oven to 175 °C (350 °F)
  2. Lightly coat a small casserole pan or baking dish (8″ x 8″ or equivalent) with olive oil
  3. Wash spinach, remove stems, and cut or tear into small pieces
  4. Heat a large frying or sauté pan to medium with ½ the olive oil
  5. Add the onion and sauté for about 2 minutes
  6. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes
  7. Add the rest of the olive oil and about 1/3 of the spinach. Continue adding spinach as its volume reduces until all the spinach is soft but still bright green
  8. Remove from heat
  9. In a separate bowl, mix the crumbled feta, the soft cheese, and the heavy cream with 1/2 the parmesan.
  10. Add the spinach and mix thoroughly
  11. Transfer to the baking dish and cover with remaining parmesan
  12. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until cheese on top is golden brown but not burned.

OK, all this spinach love reminds me how much I love my vegetables, so even though I said I’d post flutes today, instead, I’m going to give you a vegetable double feature:

and now instead of music about vegetables, how about music with vegetables?

A cat sleeping on a bed

Yes, Devil-Kitty has his very own pillow on the bed. And all this talk of cooking and exercise and vegetables has tired him out

3 thoughts on “Advent 2013 Day 3 Motivation is hard, spinach is easy

  1. The Wife

    Yay Vegetable Orchestra! I’m actually thisclose to asking for one of their albums for Christmas because it would make awesome party background music…

    Really? We had a kilo of spinach in yesterday’s extravaganza? I seem to remember buying a pound 🙂

    All together now: “Shut up, brain!!”


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