savory spinach, feta, and roasted red pepper muffins

For my submission to September’s RSVP Redux, I decided to go with the savory spinach, feta, and peppadew muffins from the Singita Sweni Lodge in South Africa. Except, of course, that I had no intention of tracking down any peppadew peppers if they weren’t immediately available in my local grocery store. Which they weren’t. I could have ordered them from here, but I didn’t. Instead, I used roasted red peppers, an easy substitution that was readily available right next to the jars of pickles and olives at Publix.

If given the option, I’ll always go for easy when it comes to cooking. There’s just too much going on in my life to ignore easy.

Instead of regular paprika, I jazzed up the muffin a bit by using pimenton de la vera, a sweet smoked paprika. This has become my go-to paprika, and I highly recommend picking up a container of it. A little goes a long way, so I typically don’t need to use very much.

The recipe instructions called for letting them cool completely before serving, and after making them, I agree completely. The savory flavors came together well upon cooling, and the flavors were even more pronounced on the next day. The muffins made a great snack and would make a wonderful appetizer, although it would be difficult to do them in smaller sizes without sacrificing some of the pieces of feta, spinach, and red pepper that made the muffins so visually appealing.

The verdict here? These are great for grown-ups, but my kids had a more difficult time with them. My more adventurous eater, the six-year old, really wanted to like them. Because of her tomato hang-up, she just couldn’t get past the pieces of tomato-look-alike red pepper scattered throughout the muffins. The almost-4-year old wouldn’t even give the muffins a second look. Too much color in them for him.

And, of course, now I can’t stop thinking about those peppadew peppers. Wonder what those would have tasted like?

Savory Spinach, Feta, and Roasted Red Pepper Muffins

Only slightly tweaked from the Singita Sweni Lodge recipe mentioned in RSVP, Bon App├ętit, September 2010 issue.

Ingredients:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (Pimenton de la Vera - Dulce)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 cup thinly sliced spinach leaves
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped drained roasted red peppers from jar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 12 standard muffin cups with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, paprika, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk milk, oil, and eggs in large bowl to blend. Add dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Add spinach, feta, and peppers. Fold to incorporate evenly. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (cups will be filled to the top).

Bake muffins until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Run knife around muffins to release from pan. Invert pan to release muffins, then turn muffins right side up and cool completely.