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Conjuring up spring with vibrant salad

Conjuring up spring with vibrant salad


I realize it is only late February, but this week I have been feeling the promise of spring in the air. Maybe I am noticing it because I was away for a few days, but suddenly the days seem longer – the light lingers until evening instead of fading in the afternoon. And that tree by the door – it is full of tight little green buds that are ready to burst into life.

Suddenly I was craving colourful and fresh foods (with a bit of substance as there is still a crisp edge to the day). This quinoa salad hit the spot: vibrant and soothing at the same time.

A handful of broad beans thrown in adds a boost of protein, fiber, potassium and energy-providing B vitamins. Broad beans are also known as fava, butter, Windsor, horse or even English beans.  Dicke Bohnen in German and tuinbonen Dutch. Shelling them takes a few minutes, but I loved peeling back the wintery grey shell to reveal that fresh nugget of powerful green. The earthy taste of the beans is echoed by the creamy avocado and is then contrasted by the zing of the radishes and lemon juice.

I have made this salad a few times and have noticed that sometimes I love the strong zingy flavour of the lemon whereas other days I really want a more mellow flavour. (And sometimes I am just too lazy to segment a lemon.) Depending on your mood you can leave out the lemon segments and use more or less juice.

For a simple lunch the salad with some crusty bread, olive oil and balsamic. It is also makes a great dinner paired with a chicken filet or a steak.
Or if you are like me and cannot choose: split your portion into two before adding the avocado. Have half for dinner with some chicken halloumi skewers (recipe to follow soon) and the rest the next day for lunch.

Ingredients
(adapted from Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’)
Serves 6

200g quinoa (or leftover cooked quinoa)
500g shelled broad beans (fresh or frozen) (NL: tuin bonen DE: Dicke Bohnen)
2 lemons
2 ripe avocado
200g radishes
50g purple radish cress (or small purple basil leaves or regular garden cress)
1 tbsp ground cumin
75 ml olive oil
1/4 tsp chili flakes
salt and black pepper

Recipe

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve (that removes the bitter flavour.) Place in saucepan with 1,5 times the amount of water. Bring to the boil. Place on the smallest burner on the lowest heat and allow to cook about 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to stand 5 min. Spread on a plate and allow to cool.  (for the original method Ottolenghi uses see “Tips”)
  2. Bring water to the boil. Throw the beans into the water. Bring the water back to the boil and then immediately drain and rinse the beans. Gently press each bean to pop it out of its shell.
  3. Optional: Cut the bottom and top off each lemon. Stand each one on the chopping board and cut of the rind and white from top to bottom following the curve of the lemon.
  4. Over a bowl slice in between the membranes to cut out each of the lemon segments. Add segments to the bowl and squeeze in any juice that is left in the membranes.
  5. Cut the avocado in half right up to the stone. Separate the two halves. Use a knife to cut the avocado into cubes inside the skin. Spoon out the cubes and add them to the bowl of lemon.
  6. Slice the radish into thin slices.
  7. Combine quinoa, avocado the lemon segments (and some or all of) the lemon juice, the radish and half the cress. Season with cumin, oil, chili, salt and pepper. Carefully toss and check the seasoning.
  8. Plate and top with remaining half of cress.


Serve with

Tips & Tricks
Ottolenghi prepares the quinoa for this dish by bringing it to the boil with plenty of water and allowing it to simmer for 9 min. He then drains it in a fine sieve, rinses it with water and leaves it to dry.

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Some of the health benefits

  • Folate participates in biochemical processes that create genetic material, build cells and metabolize amino acids. It’s so essential for the growth and development of new cells that it helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord when taken before and during early pregnancy. Everyone needs folate to produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. One cup of cooked broad beans contains 44 percent of the recommended daily intake of folate.
  • Iron: Most beans, including broad beans, are good sources of iron. One cup of broad beans has 3 milligrams of iron, which is 32 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 14 percent for women. In addition to carrying oxygen throughout the body, iron-dependent enzymes sense when oxygen levels drop and initiate processes that allow the body to compensate. Iron supports the immune system by functioning as an antioxidant that protects the white blood cells responsible for destroying bacteria.
  • Zinc: Enzymes are proteins that activate and speed up chemical processes inside your body. Almost 100 enzymes depend on zinc to fulfill their roles, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. In this role, zinc is vital for normal growth and development. Zinc deficiencies can cause growth retardation and delayed neurological development. Your immune system also suffers if you don’t get enough zinc. Decreased levels of zinc are associated with fewer white bloods cells available to fight invading pathogens and infection. The zinc from 1 cup of broad beans provides 15 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 21 percent for women.
  • Parkinson’s: If you have Parkinson’s disease, talk to your physician before eating broad beans. Broad beans are a natural source a levodopa, which is converted into the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is one of the medications used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s, but consuming levodopa from broad beans can cause both good or bad effects, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Their possible impact should be assessed by a doctor familiar with your condition.

(source: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-broad-beans-4389.html)

Fennel and rice make a perfect match with in this tasty twist on Mujaddara

Fennel and rice make a perfect match in this tasty twist on Mujaddara

By now I can hardly believe it, but I am sure that were years and years that I did not eat one single green, brown or black lentil. Not because I do not like them, I have always enjoyed them. But simply because they never crossed my mind; so they never crossed my lips.

But somehow they managed to sneak themselves back in, by hiding in little tin cans when I discovered that a can of lentils makes a great base for a salad. Perfect for anything from a bbq party to those rushed evenings where you need to rustle up a meal with what is left at the back of the fridge.

Once they found their way into my house they quickly became a staple. By now I have about five or six different types of dried lentils in my cupboard. I also still have a can for emergencies, but I prefer cooking them from dried as it is so simple to do.

Lentils are a great way to introduce more legumes into your diet.  Legumes are high in protein and fiber and they provide a steady source of glucose for energy. But if your body is not used to them, they can be hard to digest. The secret is to introduce them slowly and steadily into your regular diet. The best legumes to start with are apparently lentils, as they are easier to digest than beans. It also seems to help to combine them with rice. Another trick is to cook them with vegetables and spices that have antiflatulent properties. (This recipe combines all these using rice, a fennel bulb as well as cumin, turmeric, bay leaves.)

So really all you need to do is to fry some onions and cook them with lentils, rice and spices. In Arab this is also know and a Mujaddara (a great dish if you fridge is completely empty and you have to resort to the store cupboard). But to add some extra flavour and goodness this recipe also includes some leeks and greens. This dish works as a simple one pot dinner (maybe with some yoghurt) or as a part of a fabulous meal (with some kofta or lamb chops hummus and pita.)

So here is my attempt to sneak some more legumes into your house by pairing them with my vegetable of the week, fennel, to make a match that is tasty, healthy and easy to stomach.

 

Ingredients
(adapted from ‘fd feeding an md‘)
Serves 3-4

150g (1 cup) green or brown lentils
oil
2 leeks
salt
2 garlic cloves
100-150g (3/4-1 cup) whole grain rice
1 fennel bulb
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
ground allspice (NL, DE: Piment. Can be replaced with a mix of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
optional: turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
black pepper
salt
1 tbsp apple vinegar (a not very authentic but tasty optional addition)
6 handfuls of greens – I used spinach (see tips& variations)

 

Recipe

  1. Place the lentils into a bowl and cover with warm tap water. Soak for 10 min.
  2. Slice the leeks open lengthwise and rinse. Slice the leek thinly.
  3. Heat a pot or Dutch oven and add the oil.
  4. Add the leeks, cover with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5-10 min.
  5. Remove half the leeks, salt en keep seperate until later.
  6. Slice the fennel into half down the center and then into thin slices.
  7. Add to the leek, cover and cook until softened, about 3-5 min.
  8. Add in minced garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 sec.
  9. Stir in rice and sauté about 2 min.
  10. Mix in the cumin, allspice, cayenne and turmeric (if using).
  11. Drain the lentils, rinse and add to the pot.
  12. Pour in 1 liter (4 cups) of water.
  13. Add the bay leaf and the cinnamon stick.
  14. Cover and bring to the boil. As soon as it has comet to the boil, turn the heat low and cook for 15-10 min or until the lentils and rice are almost cooked. (I move the pot to my smallest burner and turn it down as low as possible.)
  15. When you are testing the rice to see if it is done, remember you have not added salt yet. Do not underestimate what it does for a dish!
  16. Season the dish generously with salt, pepper and a splash of apple vinegar.
  17. In the meanwhile wash the greens. They should be the size of a young, small spinach leaf so depending on what greens you are using chop if necessary. Remove any hard stalks.
  18. Lightly fold the greens into the lentil mixture. Top with the reserved leeks. Cover and cook for another 5 min until the rice and lentils are tender and the greens are wilted.
  19. Remove from the heat and let stand 5 min.

 

Tips & Variations

  • Instead of spinach you can use any other type of green like purslane (NL: postelein, DE:Portulak) or turnip tops (NL: raapstelen, DE: Stilmus/Ruebstil )
  • The back bones of this recipe are the onion (or leeks) rice, lentils and some spices. All other additions are optional.


Serve with

For a simple quick meal with

  • Yoghurt (with mint and cucumber cubes)

For a dinner spread with

Some more lentil recipes

Some of the health benefits of fennel:

Cancer: The most important nutrient in this vegetable might be anethole, a component in the volatile oil of fennel and one of the most powerful agents against cancer occurrence, possibly due to a biological mechanism that shuts down or prevents the activation of NF-kappaB, a gene-altering, inflammation-triggering molecule.(source: food facts) http://foodfacts.mercola.com/fennel.html

Flatulence: Fennel is very popular as an antiflatulent, due to the carminative properties of the aspartic acid found in fennel. Its extract can be used by everyone, from infants to the elderly, as a way to reduce flatulence and to expel excess gas from the stomach. It is commonly used in medicines to reduce symptoms of non-ulcer dyspepsia and flatulence in infants and young children.

Anemia: Iron andhistidine, an amino acid found in fennel, are both helpful in treatment of anemia. Whereas iron is the chief constituent of hemoglobin, histidine stimulates production of hemoglobin and also helps in the formation of various other components of the blood

Immune System: 1 cup of fennel bulb contains almost 20% of the daily requirement of vitamin-C, which makes fennel quite a rich source of this beneficial element of our diet. Vitamin-C improves general immune system health, produces and repairs skin tissue, helps to form collagen, and also protects the blood vessel walls as an antioxidant against the harmful effects of free radicals that can frequently lead to heart disease!

Menstrual Disorders: Fennel is also an Emenagogue, meaning that it eases and regulates menstruation by properly regulating hormonal action in the body. Furthermore, fennel is used in a number of products to reduce the effects of PMS, and it is also used traditionally as a soothing pain reliever and relaxing agent for menopausal women.

Blood Pressure: Fennel is a very rich source of potassium, which is an essential nutrient in our bodies and is vital for a number of important processes. One of the attributes of potassium is its quality as a vasodilator, which means that it relaxes the tension of blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure. High blood pressure is connected to a wide range of health issues, including heart attack, stroke, and artherosclerosis. Also, for diabetic patients, blood pressure issues can make management of their insulin and glucose levels very difficult, and can be the cause of many potentially lethal complications. A cup of fennel bulb in your daily diet will pump you full of potassium and all the benefits that come along with it.
.(Source: organic facts)

http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-fennel.html

Not your traditional meatballs - fabulously unique lentilballs with mushroom

Not your traditional meatballs – fabulously unique lentilballs with mushroom


I so love the first few days of the New Year: I get to cocoon at home and just laze around. The goal is to enjoy being as unproductive as possible. The only exception I make is for cooking – that is allowed as there are few things that are more relaxing than cradling a plateful of comfort food.

With my first dish this year I wanted to continue the tradition of starting the year with a lentil dish to symbolize abundance of happiness and prosperity. At the same time I needed a “veg of the week”. Granted, I am stretching the term vegetable by including mushrooms, but one bite of these lentilballs and you are sure to forgive me.

I did doubt trying this recipe: It seemed like way too much effort for some simple veggieballs – you have to use a pot, a food processor, a fry pan and then the oven. But oh, it is worth it! The lentils give these little morsels a lovely light texture and the mushrooms add to the deep full flavour. These lentilballs are too good to be called vegetarian “meatballs”- they really are a dish of their own right.

First, I had them in tomato sauce on zucchini ‘spaghetti’ with plenty of parmesan for a lovely healthy dinner. I think they would also be great with some (zucchini) pasta, pesto, fresh arugula and some parmesan shavings.
For my second dinner I had them in a tortilla wrap with some fresh veg and a yoghurt sauce. These lentilballs make a great alternative to the standard falafel and would also work great with a tabouleh and quick raita.

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There was an additional reason for choosing this dish: my fingers were itching to try out my newest kitchen gadget. The Spirelli spiral cutter, that I got for Christmas. What a fabulous little tool! Instead of producing those scraggily bits that you get with a julienne cutter, this gadget cuts the most perfect and incredibly long zucchini ‘spaghetti’.
My kitchen is tiny there is a very strict door policy: no egg slicer, garlic peeler or  corn stripper hidden at the back of my cupboards. But, if like me, you regularly enjoy zucchini ‘spaghetti’,  this is a great little utensil. A big thank you to my parents for a great gift.

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Ingredients
(from the blog ‘Cookie and Kate’)
About 20-25 meatballs

200g (1 cup) dried brown lentils
500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
225g (8 oz) mushrooms
45g (1/2 cup) oats
20g (1/2 cup) flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp red pepper flakes
salt, pepper
2 tbsp oil
1 medium to large onion
3-4 garlic cloves
60ml (1/4 cup) red wine (or red wine vinegar, but then a little less)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 eggs
salt, pepper


Recipe

  1. Place lentils, vegetable stock, bay leaf in a sauce plan. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 min. (Yes, they will still be undercooked.)
  2. Drain, discard the bay leaf and allow to cool a little.
  3. In a food processor, combine halved mushrooms, oats, parsley, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  4. Pulse until you have a crumbly mixture. Do not process for too long as you do not want the mixture to turn into a puree.
  5. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Chop the onion and cook for about 5 min or until translucent.
  6. Chop/press the garlic and add. Cook, stirring, for about 30 sec.
  7. Now add the lentil mushroom mixture. Cook for 5 min stirring all the time. (Do not worry if the mix sticks to the bottom of the pan, just keep on scraping it off with a spatula.)
  8. Add the red wine and soy sauce to the pan. Continue cooking and stirring until the liquid has been absorbed.
  9. Check the seasoning. (You want a little heat from the pepper flakes and enough salt.)
  10. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to cool until it is comfortable to handle.
  11. Make a well in the middle of the lentils, add the eggs and whisk them together before stirring them into the lentil mixture.
  12. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  13. With wet hands scoop little balls onto the sheet. (I made about 25 walnut size balls, but you can also choose to make about 15 golf-size balls)
  14. Bake for about 20 min (or 35min for larger balls).

Tips & Tricks
These freeze well. To reheat wrap well in aluminum foil and warm in a 200C (300F) oven.


Serve with

  • Tomato Sauce, regular or zucchini ‘spaghetti’ and some grated parmesan
  • Pesto, arugula, regular or zucchini ‘spaghetti’ and some shaved parmesan
  • In a tortilla or pita bread with lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and some yoghurt
  • With a tabbouleh and raita maybe a little beet salad on the side

Some of the health benefits of mushrooms

  • Vitamin D – Mushrooms are the only fruit or vegetable source of this critical vitamin. Like humans, mushrooms produce vitamin D when in sunlight.
  • Promote immune function by increasing the production of antiviral and other proteins that are released by cells while they are trying to protect and repair the body’s tissues. Also studies showed that white button mushrooms promoted the maturation of immune system cells–called dendritic cells–from bone marrow. According to the researchers, this may help enhance the body’s immunity leading to better defence systems against invading microbes.
  • Antioxidants—the substances that help fight free radicals that are the result of oxidation in our body—we’re more likely to think of colourful vegetables than neutral-hued mushrooms. But a study at Penn State university showed that the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC)—a measure of a food’s total antioxidants—of crimini and portobello mushrooms were about the same as for red peppers.
  • Boosting your metabolism with B vitamins that are vital for turning food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which the body burns to produce energy. They also help the body metabolize fats and protein. Mushrooms contain loads of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Good for you bladder due to selenium. Studies have shown that the higher the level of selenium, as measured in blood serum and toenails, the lower the risk of bladder cancer. Selenium had a significant protective effect mainly among women, which the researchers believe may result from gender-specific differences in this its accumulation and excretion. Several types of mushrooms are rich in this essential trace mineral: 100 grams of raw crimini have 47 percent of your daily needs, cooked shiitakes have 45 percent and raw white button have 17 percent.
  • And last but not least they are low in calories
    (found on the site “Best Health”)
Comfort food - simple and heartwarming

Comfort food – simple and heartwarming


My “Vegetable of the Week” had to be something comforting and belly filling that goes with the these dark and cold winter evenings. So this week I am serving aubergine (eggplant) cooked into a creamy one-pot wonder with lentils.

I am not sure what it is about this dish, it is not fancy tasting or beautiful looking, but I have been cooking it over and over again in the last few weeks. Maybe it is because it comes together in just about half an hour. Maybe it is because it takes hardly any effort – just a little chopping and some stirring and in the end there is only one pot that needs washing.
But I think, mainly it is the earthy taste in combination with the soothing texture – every single spoonful brings a feeling of total comfort and warm fuzzies. The only problem is that I am always left wanting seconds and thirds, fourths and…. Well, you get the picture. At some point I even stopped cooking double portions as the second serving never made it to the next day.

I will be honest, this is not a dish you serve guests. It is not fancy or complex; this is honest weekday fare you make for your family or just for yourself.

Typically I eat this stew as a main course with some cooked green beans and maybe a dollop of yoghurt. You could also serve this as a side to spicy kofta or lamb chops.

There is only one secret you need to know to make this dish work: always taste it a few times towards the end of the cooking time and season it until it tastes so good you do not want to put the spoon down. Be prepared that the first bite will not blow your socks off. The secret is adding just the right amount of balsamic vinegar, lemon and salt. (I realise that balsamic is not authentically Lebanese, but in my opinion is absolutely essential.)

Now there is only one more question to answer: To peel or not to peel? You can go either way. Peeling the aubergine will result in a more creamy stew. I leave the skin on: I prefer the texture, a large amount of the nutrients of the aubergine are in the skin and last (but certainly not least) it is less work.

Ingredients
(inspired by the blog “Tortore”)

Serves 2

2 red onions
oil
1-2 garlic cloves
150g lentils (I like green lentils for this dish although Puy or French would also be good)
300-350ml water
½ cube vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
2 large or 3 medium aubergines
balsamic vinegar (the secret ingredient)
lemon juice
optional: ground chili flakes
salt, pepper
optional: chopped flat-leaf parsley or coriander (cilantro)
optional: pomegranate seeds

Recipe

  1. Chop the onion finely.
  2. In a pot heat the oil and gently fry the onion until translucent.
  3. Squeeze in garlic and fry until soft.
  4. Wash the lentils and add.
  5. Add the water.
  6. Sprinkle in the stock.
  7. Add bay leaves.
  8. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil.
  9. Turn down the heat to low and cook 10 min.
  10. Cut the aubergine into chunks (you can peel them as well). Add to the lentils after they have cooked 10 min. Cover again with the lid.
  11. Stir around every 10 min and cook until the  lentils are tender and the stew is the consistency you like. With peeled aubergine this is around 20-30 min with unpeeled 30-40 min.
  12. Now for the important bit: this dish is nothing if you do not season it right. Add about 1 tbsp of balsamic, salt and pepper. Now taste – usually with the first bite you will doubt how this could ever turn interesting. With the right amount of balsamic and salt it will taste fabulous.


Serve with

  • I usually only have some cooked green beans on the side, but it would also be great with
  • Spicy kofta
  • Lamb chops

Other aubergine recipes

Some of the health benefits

  • Low in calories, no fat and high in fiber.
  • Good for the heart: Research studies show they can lower ‘bad’ cholesterol. But you must cook them the right way to get these benefits.
  • Improve blood circulation and nourish the brain. But remember—these nutrients are concentrated in the skin of the eggplant.
  • Relieve stress through being high in bioflavonoids.
  • Strengthens the capillaries and prevents blood clots with vitamin K.
  • And if that was not enough, they are full or iron, calcium and other minerals.
    (source: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-great-reasons-to-eat-eggplants.html)
A simple weeknight treat

A simple weeknight treat


I present, “The Vegetable of the Week“: leafy green spinach.

I couldn’t stand the stuff when I was a child – ugh, that pureed frozen stodge, usually heated for ages. But then I discovered that spinach is actually a lovely fresh leafy vegetable….that is, if you only heat it ever so briefly or eat it raw.

Now spinach is one of my favourite veggies, especially for a quick weeknight meal.

This dish, for example, is one of my go-to dinners for busy week days. Usually I take the 30 minutes to cook some dried lentils, but when I am really rushed and starving I just pop open a tin of lentils and have a plate of healthy, comforting food ready in 15 minutes.

By the way, instead of cooking the fish in a fry pan, you can also prepare it en papillotte (wrapped in parchment paper and baked in the oven). Although it took me a few tries to get a feeling for the time the fish needs to cook, I now prefer this method. I’ll share my ‘recipe’ (more like an instruction) for fish en papillotte soon!

And if you like the idea of pairing fish and lentils have a look at this unique and delicious recipe for Tuna with lentils and strawberries (yes! Strawberries.)

Ingredients
(from the blog ‘Dishing up Delights’
Serves 2

150g lentils – I like using French Lentils, but regular green lentils are great to (or a can of lentils)
375ml water
optional: ¼ stock cube
optional: 1 bay leaf
2 tbsp fresh parsley
2 tbsp fresh basil
2 tbsp fresh mint (optional)
400g spinach, organic*
1 small shallot (or a ¼ onion)
1 tbs oil
100g cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 fillets of firm white fish like halibut

Recipe

  1. If using dried lentils: Rinse the lentils in a sieve. Put in a small saucepan with the water and the stock , bay leaf (if using). Cook according to package instructions (usually: bring to the boil, turn down the heat and cook 30 or so min).
  2. If using tinned lentils: Rinse the lentils in a sieve. Put in a small saucepan with a tiny bit of water and warm gently whilst preparing the rest of the meal.
  3. Chop the parsley finely and carefully cut the basil and mint into very fine small ribbons.
  4. Wash the spinach. Chop the shallot. Cut the tomatoes into halves
  5. Heat the oil and gently fry the shallot until soft.
  6. Add the tomato and fry gently, turning them carefully a few times.
  7. Remove the tomato and shallots on to a plate. (Keep the pan on the stove.)
  8. Heat a separate pan and cook the fish.
  9. When the fish is almost done, throw the spinach in the pan you used for the onion and. Move the spinach around just enough for it to wilt.
  10. Add the chopped herbs and the lemon juice to the lentils and check for pepper and salt.
  11. Plate up the lentils mixed with the spinach and topped with tomatoes and fish.

* Tips

Spinach is one of the high pesticide-containing foods, so it’s important to eat organic spinach if you can.

Other recipes using spinach

 

 

 

Some of the health benefits

  • This is a very nutrient-dense food. It’s low in calories yet very high in vitamins, minerals. For example:
  • Spinach is loaded with flavonoids which act as antioxidants, protecting the body from free radicals. Researchers have discovered at least 13 different flavonoid compounds that act as anti-cancer substances. The various nutrients offer much in the way of disease protection.
  • Another of the benefits of spinach is that this is a heart-healthy food. It’s an outstanding source of vitamins C and A which are antioxidants that help reduce free radical amounts in the body. The antioxidants work to keep cholesterol from oxidizing. In addition, folate is good for a healthy cardiovascular system, as well as magnesium, a mineral that helps to lower high blood pressure.
  • In comparison to red meat, spinach provides a lot less calories, is fat and cholesterol free, and an excellent source of iron. Because iron is a component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to all body cells, it’s needed for good energy.
    (source: www.naturally-healthy-eating.com)
Mild and gentle Gomen (kale) to balance out the zing of the Beg Wot (Lamb Stew)

Mild and gentle Gomen (kale) to balance out the zing of the Beg Wot (Lamb Stew)


As a last post in my series of Ethiopian dishes I am sharing a simple recipe for a humble side of kale.

Although the Injera sets the stage for almost every Ethiopian meal and the meat stews are the stars, an Ethiopian feast is not complete without the supporting rolls of the many pulse and vegetable dishes. This mild kale dish contrasts beautifully with those spicy meat stews.

It might seem a bit odd that I am using kale from a glass jar – I have tried fresh and even frozen kale, but it simply does not taste like the Gomen I grew up with….so now I just continue our family tradition and pop open a jar.

 

Ingredients

2 onions
3 tbsp oil
1 large jar of kale (720g) (NL: boerenkool, DE: Gruenkohl)
2 cm piece ginger
salt
green jalapeno pepper (large chili pepper)

 

Recipe

  1. Chop the onion very fine (in a food processor).
  2. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a medium size pot. Gently fry the onions until they are translucent. Should they start sticking and burning add a little hot water.
  3. Squeeze in ginger in through a garlic press.
  4. Drain the kale and squeeze it dry.
  5. Add to the onion and cook whilst stirring until quite dry.
  6. Cover with a lid.
  7. Cook about 20 min, stirring once in a while to prevent it from burning.
  8. Season with salt.
  9. Remove seeds from the jalapeno and cut it into thin slices or strips. Stir most of the jalapeno into the stew and decorate it with the remainder.

 

Tips & Variations

  • Make a triple amount of the onions sauce. Use one third for the kale, a third for yellow split peas and a third  lentils.


Serve with

 

Tender yellow split peas with a hint of garlic and ginger - fragrant Kik Allitcha

Tender yellow split peas with a hint of garlic and ginger – fragrant Kik Allitcha


Yesterday my dear friend LS invited me to join a dinner party she was giving at a local Ethiopian restaurant.  (Thank you for a fabulous evening!)

Our huge plated was piled high with many different sauces and reminded me that I really cannot get away with only posting recipes for Ethiopian Injera and Lamb Stew. An Ethiopian feast is simply not complete without those many vegetarian dishes made from vegetables and pulses. One of my favourites is this sauce made from yellow split peas.

Instead of yellow split peas you can also use regular green lentils. Another tasty and quicker alternative are red lentils: There is no need to pre-cook these; they only need to be washed and can then be added straight to the onions.

 

Ingredients
150g yellow split peas
2 onions
3 tbsp oil
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 cm piece ginger (about the same amount as garlic)
1/2 tsp tumeric
salt
green jalapeno pepper (large chili pepper)

 

Recipe

  1. Wash the peas in a sieve until the water runs clear.
  2. Place in a medium size pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer on a low flame until they start to become a little tender. About 30 min.
  3. Allow to cool..
  4. Chop the onion very fine (in a food processor).
  5. Bring some water (about 1 l) to the boil.
  6. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a medium size pot. Gently fry the onions until they are translucent. Should they start sticking and burning add a little hot water.
  7. Add the peas.
  8. Squeeze garlic and ginger in through a garlic press.
  9. Add turmeric and salt.
  10. Cover the peas with boiling water and allow to simmer on a low flame until tender, about 20 min.
  11. Remove seeds from the jalapeno and cut it into thin slices or strips. Stir most of the jalapeno into the stew and decorate it with the remainder.

 

Tips & Variations

  • Replace the yellow split peas with regular green lentils
  • Replace the yellow split peas with red lentils. There is no need to pre-cook these; they only need to be washed and can then be added straight to the onions.
  • Make a triple amount of the onions sauce. Use one third for the split peas, a third for lentils and a third for gomen (a kale side dish).


Serve with