Spinach and Feta Florets with Tomato Coulis

One thing I can tell you about my big sister Jodi is that when I was a kid, she regularly let me stand up on the passenger seat of her powder blue Volkswagen Beetle and stick my upper body out of her sun roof as she drove me home from school. I’d throw my arms straight into the air and close my eyes as the wind blasted my face.  I could have been killed.

Here’s something else.  She took me to Disneyland once and dragged me into the “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” attraction.  She waited until I was sufficiently bored before leaning over and gently whispering into my ear, “You better pay attention because they give you a test afterwards, and if you fail it they kick you out of the park.”

This one is good too:  Jodi was officially the first person in the family who found out I had no interest in women.  She was visiting at the house I shared in Beverly Hills around 1997 or so, and while at the dinner table my idiot roommate (who later became my idiot boyfriend for a few years) casually asked, “Hey Gary, do the people at your office know you’re gay?”  I can’t imagine what my face looked like at that moment. (You’ll have to wait for Jodi’s blog to get the full report on that). Compounding the embarrassment was that Jodi was staying the night, and sharing my room.

There was no escape, no shell under which I could retreat.

But Jodi calmly re-assured me later that night as I was curled up in the corner of my room, wishing I could die, that she wasn’t really surprised by the news (are attentive older sisters ever surprised by that news?) and that it didn’t change anything between us.  She also made it clear to me that it wouldn’t make a difference to anyone else in my family either, though it took me a while longer to actually come to believe that.

It was probably close to six months before I mustered the courage to come out to the rest of the family, but when I did, I knew no matter what reaction I’d get, I had Jodi in my corner.

My kitchen is small.  Really small.  If my apartment is the entire world, my kitchen is Malta.  So I don’t generally like other people in there with me when there’s cooking going on.

Ask MG.  He’ll tell you the best spot to interact with me while I’m getting down over the stove is seated on the bar stool on the other side of the counter between the kitchen and the living room – full access to the chef ‘s attention without eating up any valuable elbow room.

But when your big sister comes up to spend the Fourth of July weekend and wants to cook with you, and it’s the sister who encouraged and supported rambunctious childhood mischief (even if it was dangerous), happily had innocent fun at your expense (even if it was mean), and embraced you with love when you worried you might lose the support of your family (even if it was never even a real possibility), god dammit… you shove yourself over and make plenty of room!




This recipe was great because it was so much easier with two people making it. While I handled the coulis, Jodi was cooking the lasagna and preparing the feta spinach filling.  After I rolled the filling into each lasagna noodle, I handed off to her to do the cutting.  Mom and dad would have been so proud to see siblings working so well together.


Consider these little lovelys a way for you to have far more portion control than if you made a traditional lasagna.  I don’t know about you but I tend to cut myself a piece that is way bigger than what my stomach can handle.  But once it’s on the plate in front of me, I won’t stop until it’s completely devoured.  As these are smaller and individual, you can drop one or two on to your plate with some garlic bread, and go back for another later.  Or you can be like MG and take down six of them.  They were definitely a hit, and lots of leftovers (18 florets total)!

Spinach and Feta Florets with Tomato Coulis

  • 9 dry lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • Tomato Coulis:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 cans (14.5 oz each) Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 3 pkgs (10 oz each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 9 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Preparation
Hands On: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Cook lasagna noodles for about 6 minutes in salted, boiling water (or until pliable but still firm). When done, rinse with cold water, drain. Spray noodles with cooking spray to prevent sticking until ready to fill.

Meanwhile, make Tomato Coulis. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat 1 minute. Add onions and garlic; cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until onion is tender. Add undrained tomatoes; cook over medium-low heat 30 minutes (sauce should be gently bubbling around edge of pan). Place coulis in blender container and puree until smooth (work in several batches if necessary). Place coulis in baking dish; set aside.

Make Filling: Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat 1 minute. Add shallots; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender. Blend in well-drained spinach, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook and stir 3 minutes or until heated through. Remove from heat.

Place plastic wrap on work surface. Lay out lasagna noodles. Top each with equal amounts of spinach mixture (about 1/3 cup). Spread spinach evenly over each noodle leaving last 2 inches uncovered. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon feta over spinach on each noodle. Roll up each starting with the covered end. Carefully cut each roll-up in half and place ruffled-edge facing up in dish. Cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and roll-ups are hot.

I sprinkled about a tablespoon of red pepper flakes over the tops of the florets just before baking.  It added a nice bit of heat for me, but I tend to like more than the average person.  If you’re a fan of the heat, try a teaspoon the first time and more the next if you dare.

To serve, spread 1/2 cup hot coulis in each shallow bowl; top with 3 roll-ups. Remaining sauce may be served on side.

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7 thoughts on “Spinach and Feta Florets with Tomato Coulis

  • July 9, 2011 at 3:01 am
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    I love this Gary…It makes me proud to see that Dad and I did a great job with our kids. They all love each other and the can cook too…How great is that?

  • July 9, 2011 at 11:39 am
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    Love the recipe – and the post!

  • July 9, 2011 at 5:01 pm
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    Cute picture of you and your sister, great looking meal and how cute is that that your mother posted a comment??

  • July 9, 2011 at 7:26 pm
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    “Florets” Nice touch…..

  • July 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm
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    What a great family. Love your Sis, and you too. The florets ain’t bad either.

  • August 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm
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    Gary, great story… Just gotta love family … They do too. And stupid roommates, well, what are you gonna do???

    As to this recipe… WOW. what colors. I am loving this and wondering if I could get away with this as a holiday dish at Christmas.

    I do need meat in mine though. I guess it would have to be in the sauce that’s just me talkin

    Great post, amazing photo and loving this alot

  • August 13, 2011 at 6:11 pm
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    What a great idea! The florets look gorgeous. I bet they were good too. 🙂

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