Lebanese comfort food at its best aka yakhnet el-sabanekh! Just fresh spinach, a touch of meat, and a dose of cilantro pesto or garlic to liven things up a bit.
In Beirut, it would take a while to clean the spinach, as all veggies come practically dug-up fresh from the land; sometimes a healthy worm or snail would be found in the bunch. In the US, one can use bagged and washed spinach to save time. Chop the stems as well, and make a pot of rice with vermicelli to go with the stew. If you prefer it vegan, you can substitute chickpeas or beans for the ground meat here and it will work just fine.
Spinach and meat stewJoumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern October 8, 2020 Main Dish, lebanese, spinach, stew,
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
1 lb ground beef or lamb
4 bunches fresh spinach, washed well and chopped coarsely (or 3 10-oz boxes of frozen spinach), about 2 lbs
1 cup (or more as needed) water
Spices: salt, to taste, 1 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp black or white pepper and cinnamon.
4 cloves of garlic, mashed with a pinch of salt
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional, see note)
3 lemons, 1 juiced and the others quartered when ready to serve
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot and fry the onions until soft and golden. Add the meat and brown it, breaking it apart with two wooden spoons to keep it small and season it with the spices.
- Add the water and spinach; lower the heat and cover the pot, stirring a bit; let the mixture simmer a bit for about 5 minutes then add the garlic paste and lemon juice. Stir a bit and simmer a few minutes longer. Serve with the quartered lemons and a side of rice.
If you decide to use the cilantro pesto, it is best to prepare it ahead. In a small skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil, add the mashed garlic and chopped cilantro, stir to combine for a few seconds, then remove from the heat. At this point the pesto is ready. It can also be frozen and added frozen to the stew.
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