Spinach Brownies ♥

Spinach Brownies, another easy, healthy breakfast ♥ A Veggie Venture. Fresh & Flexible. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Great for Meal Prep. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. Low Cal. Vegetarian.
Is your head spinning? LOL that was my first reaction too! But the concept is not only healthy but simple: just fresh or frozen spinach baked in squares, muffins or tarts, bound by egg, yogurt and cheese and the flour and baking powder found in everyone's favorite chocolate brownies. For anyone who flies out the door with a breakfast bar, instead tuck one of these in your pocket. For anyone looking for a healthy grab 'n' go breakfast, Spinach Brownies are a tasty choice. Or how about healthy bite-size appetizers for an upcoming party? Or just a warm, savory spinach muffin? Spinach Brownies are all these and more.

Fresh & Flexible. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Great for Meal Prep. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. Weekday Easy, Weekend Special. Vegetarian.


Spinach Brownies or Breakfast Brownies?

Recipe names are important. I flip-flopped back 'n' forth between Spinach Brownies (so simple but so head-spinning) and Breakfast Brownies (who else loves alliteration?!).

The case for the name Spinach Brownies.
Wow, so much spinach here, an entire pound.
But the texture is definitely akin to brownies, there's even a little flour and a little baking powder to add brownie-like heft and lift.
Isn't life just a tiny bit better, know that there is such a thing as a truly healthy brownie? one totally acceptable for a breakfast or portable snack?

The case for (and against) Breakfast Brownies.
Breakfast is a natural time to serve something called breakfast brownies, either warm straight from the oven or made ahead of time to tuck into a paper towel for an ooops-I'm-running-late-again healthy on-the-go breakfast.
It's a challenge, right, to work vegetables into breakfast. Would the idea of breakfast "brownies" make it just a little bit easier, without mentioning all that healthy spinach?

But then again? Breakfast Brownies aren't just for breakfast!

Spinach Brownies, another easy, healthy breakfast ♥ A Veggie Venture. Fresh & Flexible. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Great for Meal Prep. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. Low Cal. Vegetarian.

Spinach Brownies As a Healthy Appetizer

So cool, this. Just cut the Brownies into tiny bites. For example, in my 8x8 pan, I cut nine squares – and then, believe it or not, cut one square into nine tiny bites, the perfect size for a platter with toothpicks alongside.

Need a picture of that? Me too. The dog ate my homework. Literally. After I served bite-size Spinach Brownies to my book club last week, the dog devoured what was left, ugh, toothpicks and all. But just know, these are sturdy little bites, easy to transport to a party or picnic. And so good!

So What Do You Think?

Did I go with the right name? Why not make a batch and pick your own favorite?





RECIPE for SPINACH BROWNIES

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 60 minutes
Makes 1 8x8 pan for 9 breakfast-size pieces (my favorite) or 12 regular-size muffins (my least favorite) or 6 individual-size mini tarts or 81 bite-size appetizers (so easy)

START IN THE SKILLET
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup (50g) finely diced onion (or up to 1 cup)
1/2 cup (50g) finely diced red bell pepper (or up to 1 cup)
1 pound spinach, either fresh or frozen (both are good, fresh is just, well, fresher)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper, be generous

LARGE MIXING BOWL
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (170g) Greek yogurt (non-fat works beautifully, so do others)
1/2 cup (62g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Sprinkle cayenne
Cooked Spinach
2 ounces (57g) good melting cheese, cut in tiny cubes (pre-grated cheese works too)

OPTIONAL GARNISH
Rings of mini pepper

Set oven to 375F/190C. Spray a baking dish generously with baking spray.

START IN A SKILLET Heat a large, non-stick skillet on medium heat, add the oil and heat until shimmery. Add the onion and bell pepper and stir to coat with fat. Let gently cook, just until beginning to soften.

<< FOR FRESH SPINACH >> For fresh spinach, cut the spinach into ribbons in four or five batches; add to the skillet in batches too, sprinkling with a little water if the skillet seems dry; stir occasionally, add another batch when the prior one has begun to shrink and there's room. Once the spinach is all in the skillet, season with salt, garlic and black pepper. Cover and let cook until the spinach is fully cooked but not mushy; to be sure, give the spinach a taste test (it'll be salty, but don't worry, it'll be ok). As the spinach cooks, press the spinach to release excess liquid and let this cook off.

<< FOR FROZEN SPINACH >> Use a 16-ounce bag of frozen spinach, there's no need to thaw it beforehand (although you can, just put it in the fridge for 24 hours, even overnight gets a good start) or even squeeze out the liquid. Instead, as you get started, throw the bag into the microwave as you prep, I use the large mixing bowl that will later be used for the eggs, in case the spinach bag leaks. Once the onion and pepper are beginning to soften, stir in the spinach (either still frozen, partially frozen or thawed), breaking up the frozen sections as the spinach warms up. Once the spinach has mostly thawed, season with salt, garlic and black pepper. Cover and let cook until the spinach is fully cooked but not mushy; every so often, press the spinach firmly with the spatula, pressing out excess liquid so that it can cook off. Frozen spinach has a lot more excess liquid, it helps to press the the spinach itself toward the edge of the skillet, letting the liquid pool in the center; leave the lid off at the end, it'll cook off more quickly.

LARGE MIXING BOWL While the spinach cooks, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the Greek yogurt, flour, baking powder and cayenne. With a spatula, fold in the Cooked Spinach and cheese.

BAKE Spread the batter in the baking dish. If you like, garnish with rings of mini pepper. Bake for about 30 minutes until the top turns golden and the center is firm. Serve immediately or let cool and eat later, either cold or after rewarming in the microwave. If baking in muffin tins or a tart pan, remove from the pan after 5 or 10 minutes to avoid sticking.

MAKE-AHEAD Spinach Brownies are a great meal-prep breakfast. They're even portable, just wrap in waxed paper or a paper towel and send that husband kid out the door.

LEFTOVERS reheat beautifully in the microwave, just 30 seconds usually does it.

ALANNA'S TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
ALTERNATIVE BAKING DISHES Double the recipe for a 9x13 pan. A single recipe works well for a dozen regular-size muffins. For something slightly more elegant looking, I love these shallow non-stick fluted tart pan from Williams Sonoma, one recipe makes six substantial tarts, thanks to Kalyn's Kitchen for the pan recommendation! Would mini muffins work too? I think definitely yes! FYI all these (except perhaps the mini muffins) also bake for 30 minutes at 350F/180C.
SPINACH CHOICES
For fresh spinach, baby spinach is too tender for Spinach Brownies, save it for salads because here, it would melt into a soggy mush.

Instead, choose a mature spinach, basically anything not labeled "baby spinach". The loose spinach in grocery stores is also usually more mature but it does require careful cleaning. My favorite spinach comes in one-pound bags for $3 or $4 in the produce department at local groceries and Walmart; Sam's Club also sells giant two-pound bags that's great. This spinach is tender enough for salads but sturdy enough to cook with, it's also super clean, no need to rinse. For prettiness, you might want to cut off the slightly tougher stems but me, I can't be bothered with this tedious step for Spinach Brownies.

For frozen spinach, wow, there's such a difference in quality in frozen spinach. In general, I've learned to avoid the small ten-ounce boxes of frozen spinach. But even the bags can vary. It's easy for me to settle on keeping 16-ounce bags of Trader Joe's spinach in the freezer but readers who don't have a nearby Trader Joe's, have you settled on good brands of frozen spinach? I'm sure people would like to know!

NOT A FAN OF BELL PEPPER? OR OUT OF IT? Artichoke hearts and fresh mushrooms are both good substitutes. The idea is to break up the spinach, to give the Brownies another taste and texture dimension.

GREEK YOGURT SUBSTITUTE Cottage cheese works really well!



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Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

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2020


Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

Comments

  1. Sounds great, but I'm not a fan of the name. I almost didn't even look at it because I assumed from the name that it was some sort of actual brownie with spinach in it (like beet cake, etc.). With no chocolate in it, maybe "Spinach Blondies" would have been closer? I'd have just gone with Spinach Breakfast Squares or something like that. But regardless of the name, it sounds yummy, and I'm looking forward to trying it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheryl ~ I so hear you! I like your Spinach Breakfast Squares idea. Let’s see how things go? I’m glad the name choice won’t keep you from making them! And thanks so much for chiming in!

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