Friday, November 18, 2011

Review: Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Challah

Friends, Pinterest is a dangerous, dangerous thing. I can spend hours just looking at delicious, darling, hipster, beautiful, amazing recipes, fashion, and home ideas. But I looooove Pinterest.
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I pinned this recipe quite some time ago and have been anxious to try it. It's a Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Challah from the LA Times. However, since I was trying it, and I didn't have a ton of ricotta, I halved the recipe. Then, well into the process, I realized I didn't have any basil. Enter improvisation.

Here are my modifications on the original. While this recipe gives a challah dough recipe, I really think that you can use whatever you want. I just used my own recipe (with fresh yeast because I love it so much).

about 3 large handfuls of fresh spinach {the original recipe uses frozen which is easier, but I have a hard time finding it kosher}
1 tbsp fresh chopped oregano
1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme {I still have these herbs from my garden}
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 heaping tbsp cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry frying pan
1 cups ricotta cheese
2 heaping tbsp cornmeal or flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


So, here's the deal. There should also be about 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped to truly be the original recipe's ricotta/pesto blend. I sprinkled a little dried basil but a REALLY little bit and that flavor didn't come through.

For the spinach, I just put all the leaves in a microwave safe bowl with a bit of water and let them go on high for about 1 minute, checking periodically after 45 seconds. After they were cool enough to handle, I squeeze the water out and chopped.
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The linked recipe doesn't show you how to do the filled braid, but I've seen tutorials elsewhere. Here's how I did it. Make sure to tuck in those ends!
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You could also do a filled challah, which is one of our favorite methods.
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The Verdict: It's okay. I made this is as a Tuesday experiment, and we decided that on Thursday it tasted it's best. The flavors had kind of mellowed out. But, really, it's just okay. The ricotta is salty so the whole thing is a bit aggressive. I think I prefer mozzarella or parmesan in my challah if I'm doing a savory, cheese-y loaf.

That said, it was a fun experiment, and I do like the "braiding" technique.
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