Recipe Files: Mediterranean Gratin

A nice, light vegetarian casserole, perfect for summer!  I like to serve this with side salad, but some nice fresh fruit (maybe grilled peaches) would be great on the side as well.  This recipe serves 4 and takes about 45 minutes from start to finish for me.

To begin, you’ll need:

  • 1 box (5.8 oz) couscous mix (I usually use one that has a garlic flavoring)
  • 5-6 oz. baby spinach leaves (6-7 c.)
  • 2 T. water
  • 1/2 c. roasted red bell peppers, chopped (I just used the ones from a jar and chop the slices.)
  • 1 and 1/2 t. grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 c. cheese (The original recipe calls for feta but I usually use mozzarella instead.)
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1 T. olive oil

Begin by heating your oven to 350 degrees and making the couscous according to package directions (use the version without olive oil).  Spray a 2-quart or medium-sized casserole dish with Pam or other nonstick cooking spray.  Place a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the spinach and the water to the skillet then cover.  Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Once the spinach leaves are wilted, stir in the prepared couscous, red peppers, lemon peel, salt, beans, and half of the cheese.  After mixing, pour into the prepared casserole dish.  In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining cheese with the walnuts and oil.  Sprinkle the cheese and nut mixture over the top of the couscous.  Bake for about 25 minutes, and enjoy!


*recipe taken from Betty Crocker’s Easy Everyday Vegetarian

Wine Wednesday!

Sorry for the prolonged absence, but now a return to the important things… like vino!

wine wednesday

Hedges, red blend

 This wine I discovered a few years ago while dining out.  It was on the menu as an option for reds by the glass;  I ordered it ordered it and ended up loving it.  This bottle is a meritage (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah grapes) produced by Hedges in Washington state.   This CMS red blend is a 2007 and it retails for under $15.  You pick up this or a bottle of its sister, the white blend, at Fresh Market.

My notes:

  • very approachable for non-red-wine-drinkers
  • light
  • dark plum color
  • light, fruity aroma
  • berries, plum, vanilla

And some excerpts from the experts: (as found on

Hedges Cellars

Aromas of dark cherry, cassis, with hints of tar, tobacco, and sweet vanilla toast. Black cherry and blackberry fruit continue on the palate with dried herbs and licorice. A nicely balanced wine with enough acidity and tannins for extended longevity that pairs nicely with a wide array of foods.

Wine Enthusiast

Young, bright, sharply defined, this brings berry and cranberry fruit in a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a splash of Syrah. Hints of pepper and herb suggest this as a companion to, say, lamb sausage. Then, as the wine opens in the glass, cherry candy comes on strong. Very pretty.

Score: 88. —Paul Gregutt, March 01, 2010.