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Making Spinach The Basis Of A Big Salad

Fresh spinach is vitamin-rich and high in fiber  DIANA HELFAND PHOTO

Fresh spinach is vitamin-rich and high in fiber

This is a momentous year at Ballet Hawaii, with a 30th anniversary for artistic director Pamela Taylor Tongg and a new executive director, Kenji Stevens.

Each year, dancers dreams come true thanks to this wonderful community organization and the work of its tireless board of directors, volunteers and dedicated staff. Kenji will lead the dance troops with their adult and youth class programs, both at the Honolulu facility and the new West Oahu location, culminating in recitals and professional-level performances throughout the year.

Born and raised on Oahu and a proud ‘Iolani father of four, Kenji Stevens is a veteran of the arts community in Honolulu and was general manager of Hawaii Symphony for more than 20 years.

Ballet Hawaii is about more than just fairy tale productions, with more than 400 students year-round, as well as a popular summer school program. This year’s productions include Alonzo King’s Lines and the ever-popular Alice in Wonderland.

Ballet fosters creativity with beautiful music, dramatic storylines and spectacular costumes — it’s the perfect place to let your imagination run wild.

Kenji thoroughly enjoys cooking as a hobby, and graciously has given me this recipe to share with MidWeek readers.

Spinach is fat and cholesterol-free, low calorie and an excellent source of fiber. It is high in vitamins A and C, iron and folate, and a good source of magnesium.

When purchasing, choose fresh green bunches with no black spots. Spinach can be stored for about two to three days in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag.


For Couscous Cakes:

• 3/4 cup couscous (Quinoa can be substituted for a gluten-free option. Cook according to package directions)

• 1 large clove garlic, peeled

• 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

• 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained

• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

• 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Put the couscous and 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste) in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water to the couscous, cover the bowl with a lid and let sit for 4-5 minutes. Chop the garlic in a food processor and add the parsley until finely chopped. Add chickpeas and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until coarsely chopped. Uncover the couscous and fluff with fork. Stir in chickpea mixture, eggs and lemon zest until combined. Press the couscous mixture into a 1/4 cup measuring cup, smooth the top and release the cake onto a plate. Mixture should make around nine cakes.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Put the cakes into the pan and use a spatula to flatten the cakes until they’re around 3/4-inch thick. Cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides.

For Salad:

• 8 ounces baby spinach (about 6 cups)

• 1 14-ounce can artichoke quarters, drained, rinsed and sliced

• 15 cherry tomatoes, halved

• 1 ounce crumbled feta cheese

kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Assemble the salad and toss with the dressing. Top with couscous cakes and sprinkle each salad with feta cheese.

For Dressing:

• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

• 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

• 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint

• 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, Greek yogurt and mint. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.